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The title of this book and its relation to my Prolegomena may 
call for a word of explanation. 

In the Prolegomena I was chiefly concerned to show that the 
religion of Homer was no more primitive than his language. The 
Olympian gods — that is, the anthropomorphic gods of Homer and 
Pheidias and the mythographers — seemed to me like a bouquet of 
cut-flowers whose bloom is brief, because they have been severed 
from their roots. To find those roots we must burrow deep into 
a lower stratum of thought, into those chthonic cults which under- 
lay their life and from which sprang all their brilliant blossoming. 

So swift has been the advance in science or rather in historical 
imagination, so complete the shift of standpoint, that it has 
become difficult to conceive that, in 1903, any such protest was 
needed. Since the appearance of Professor Murray's Rise of the 
Greek Epic we realize how late and how enlightened was the com- 
promise represented by these Olympians. We can even picture to 
ourselves the process by which their divinity was shorn of each 
and every ' mystical or monstrous ' attribute. 

When in 1907 a second edition of my book was called for, its 
theories seemed to me already belated. My sense of the super- 
ficiality of Homer's gods had deepened to a conviction that these 
Olympians were not only non-primitive, but positively in a seuse 
non-religious. If they were not, for religion, starting-points, they 
were certainly not satisfactory goals. On the other hand, the 
cultus of Dionysos and Orpheus seemed to me, whatever its 
errors and licenses, essentially religious. I was therefore compelled 
reluctantly to face the question, what meaning did I attach to the 
word religion ? My instinct was to condemn the Olympians as 
non-religious, because really the products of art and literature 

viii Introduction 

though posing as divinities. Could this instinct stand the test 
of examination, or was it merely a temperamental prejudice 
masquerading as a reasoned principle ? 

The problem might have continued ineffectively to haunt me, 
and probably to paralyse my investigations, had not light come 
rather suddenly from unexpected quarters, from philosophy and 
social psychology. To France I owe a double debt, indirect but 
profound, and first and foremost to Professor Henri Bergson. 

It is characteristic always of a work of genius that it casts, as 
it were, a great search light into dark places far be} T ond its own 
immediate province. Things unseen before or insignificant shine 
out in luminous projection. The sudden flash may dazzle, the 
focus be misleading or even false ; but the light is real. New 
tracks open out before us, and we must needs set fortb through 
the long uncharted shadows. 

It is no part of Professor Bergson's present programme, so far 
as I understand it, to analyse and define the nature and function 
of religion. But when, four years ago, I first read his L' Evolution 
Creatrice, I saw, dimly at first, but with ever increasing clearness, 
how deep was the gulf between Dionysos the mystery-god and 
that Olympos he might never really enter. I knew the reason of 
my own profound discontent. I saw in a word that Dionysos, 
with every other mystery-god, was an instinctive attempt to 
express what Professor Bergson calls dure'e, that life which is one, 
indivisible and yet ceaselessly changing. I saw on the other hand 
that the Olympians, amid all their atmosphere of romance and all 
their redeeming vices, were really creations of what Professor 
William James called ' monarchical deism.' Such deities are not 
an instinctive expression, but a late and conscious representation, 
a work of analysis, of reflection and intelligence. Primitive religion 
was not, as I had drifted into thinking, a tissue of errors leading 
to mistaken conduct ; rather it was a web of practices emphasizing 
particular parts of life, issuing necessarily in representations and 
ultimately dying out into abstract conceptions. A statement like 
this when condensed is necessarily somewhat cryptic. In the 
concrete instances to be adduced from Greek religion, it will 
become I hope abundantly clear. I may add that, save perhaps 
for a few sentences in the last two chapters, every word of my 

Introduction ix 

book is, I hope, intelligible without any understanding of Professor 
Bergson's philosophy. 

My second debt is to a thinker whose temperament, manner 
and method are markedly different, and whose philosophy is, I 
believe, in France, accounted as alien to that of Professor Bergson, 
Professor Emile Durkheim. 

In the light of U Evolution Creatrice, Mature et Memoire and 
Les Donnees Immediates de la Conscience I had come to see the 
real distinction between the mystery-god Dionysos and the 
Olympians. In the light of Professor Durkheim's Be la Definition 
des Phenomenes Religieuoc, Representations Individuelles et Repre- 
sentations Collectives and Sociologie Religieuse et Theorie de la 
Connaissance, I saw why Dionysos, the mystery-god, who is the 
expression and representation of duree, is, alone among Greek 
divinities, constantly attended by a thiasos, a matter cardinal for 
the understanding of his nature. The mystery-god arises out of 
those instincts, emotions, desires which attend and express life ; 
but these emotions, desires, instincts, in so far as they are religious, 
are at the outset rather of a group than of individual consciousness. - 
The whole history of epistemology is the history of the evolu- 
tion of clear, individual, rational thought, out of the haze of 
collective and sometimes contradictory representations. It is a 
necessary and most important corollary to this doctrine, that the 
form taken by the divinity reflects the social structure of the 
group to which the divinity belongs. Dionysos is the Son of his 
Mother because he issues from a matrilinear-group. 

These two ideas, (1) that the mystery-god and the Olympian 
express respectively, the one duree, life, and the other the action 
of conscious intelligence which reflects on and analyses life, 
and (2) that, among primitive peoples, religion reflects collective 
feeling and collective thinking, underlie my whole argument and 
were indeed the cause and impulse of my book. I felt that these 
two principles had altered my whole outlook on my own subject, 
and that, in the light of them, I must needs reexamine the whole 
material — a task at present only partially achieved. 

I am however no philosopher and still more no sociologist. 

x Introduction 

All this intellectual stir and ferment might for me have re- 
mained sterile or at least have taken no definite form, but for an 
archaeological discovery, the finding at Palaikastro of the Hymn 
of the Kouretes. In commenting on this Hymn, discovered in the 
temple of Diktaean Zeus, I found to my delight that we had in 
it a text that embodied this very group-thinking, or rather group- 
emotion towards life, which I had begun to see must underlie 
all primitive religious representations. The Hymn sung by the 
Kouretes invoked a daimon, the greatest Kouros, who was clearly 
the projection of a thiasos of his worshippers. It accompanied 
a magical dance and was the vehicle of a primitive sacramental 
cult. In the detailed analysis of the Hymn we should come, I 
felt, to understand the essence of a mystery-religion and incident- 
ally the reason also why the Olympians failed to satisfy the 
religious instinct. The Hymn of the Kouretes furnished for my 
book its natural and necessary plot. 

In the pages that follow, subjects apparently unconnected will 
come in for discussion. We shall have to consider, for example, 
magic, mana, tabu, the Olympic games, the Drama, Sacramentalism, 
Carnivals, Hero-worship, Initiation Ceremonies and the Platonic 
doctrine of Anamnesis. All these matters, seemingly so disparate, 
in reality cluster round the Hymn, and can really only be under- 
stood in connection with the two principles already laid down. 
If the reader will be good enough to hold these two clues firmly 
in his hand, the windings of the labyrinth will be to him no 
perplexity. The course is plain before us as follows. 

Chapter I is devoted to the analysis of the Hymn. The 
Kouretes are found to represent the initiated young men of a 
matrilinear group. The Daimon they invoke is, not the Father 
of Gods and Men, but the Greatest Kouros. He springs from the 
social emphasis of the rite of initiation, the central ceremony of 
which was a drome non or enaction of the New Birth into the tribe. 
Among primitive peoples the child, by his first natural birth, 
belongs to his mother, his life is of her life. By his Second Birth 
at Initiation, he is made one with the life of his group, his 'soul 
is congiegationalized,' he is received into his church, his thiasos. 
The new life emphasized is group life. The unity of the group 
is represented by the figure of the Daimon. The Kouros stands 

Introduction xi 

for the unity of the Kouretes, the Bacchos for the thiasos of 

Since the religious conception of a Daimon arises from a 
dromenon, it is of the first importance to be clear as to what 
a dromenon is. The second chapter is devoted to its psychological 
analysis. The dromenon in its sacral sense is, not merely a thing 
done, but a thing ?'e-done, or pre-done with magical intent. The 
magical dance of the Kouretes is a primitive form of dromenon, it 
commemorates or anticipates, in order magically to induce, a New 
Birth. The Dithyramb, from which the drama arose, was also a 
dromenon of the New Birth. In the drama then we may expect 
to find survivals of a ritual akin to that of the Kouretes. Further, 
the dromenon is a thing which, like the drama, is collectively 
performed. Its basis or kernel is a tliiasos or choros. 

So far attention has been concentrated on Professor Durkheim's 
principle that religious representation arises from collective action 
and emotion. This emotion necessarily has its objects, and they 
prove to be such as occur in other primitive societies. I have 
studied especially two rites : (1) the Rite of the Thunders and 
(2) the Omophagia (Chapters III, IV, and V). The Thunder- 
Rite emphasizes man's reaction towards, and, in a sense, his 
desire for union with, the most striking manifestation of force in 
the universe around him. The emotions that arise out of similar 
reactions are expressed in such savage terms and conceptions as 
Mana, Orenda, Wa-ko?i'-da. In Greek religion this stage, owing 
to the Greek tendency to swift impersonation, is much obscured, 
but traces of it survive in such conceptions as Kratos and Bia, 
Styx, Horkos, /xevos, 0v/j,6<; and the like. Such sanctities, such 
foci of attention precede divinities and even daimones, and it is 
the manipulation of such sanctities that issues in the notions and 
practices of magic and tabu discussed in Chapter IV. 

Magic, it is seen, though it may imply a large amount of 
mistaken science, arises primarily from a dromenon, a rite which 
emphasizes, and aims at iuducing, man's collective desire for union 
with or dominion over outside powers. The kernel and essence 
of magic is best seen in the second Kouretic rite of initiation, the 
sacramental feast of the Omophagia. Sacraments lie at the heart 

xii Introduction 

of religion and sacraments can only be understood in the light of 
totemistic thinking, which may long survive any definite totemistic 
social structure. To the meaning of the word sacrament Chapter V 
is devoted. 

Totemism, it is found, is the utterance of two kinds of unity 
and solidarity, that of man with his group of fellow men, and that 
of the human group with some group of plants or animals. Sacra- 
mentalism stands for the absorption by man of the mana of non- 
man. Gift-sacrifice implies the severance of man from that 
outside mana which man has externalized, objectified into a god. 
Totemistic thinking knows no god ; it creates sanctities but not 
divinities. These animal and plant group-sanctities live on in the 
plant and animal forms the mystery-god can assume at will. 

The Omophagia was a dais or communal meal. Since food 
is the main source or at least support of life, sacraments among 
primitive peoples tend to take the form of meals, though other means 
of contact, such as rubbing and washing, are in use. As food was 
primitive man's main focus of interest, it was soon observed that 
most food-supplies were seasonal and therefore recurrent. Hence 
arose the seasonal dromenon with its attendant sacrifice. In 
Greece the chief seasonal dromenon seems to have been in the 
spring ; its object, the magical inducement of fresh life, for man, 
for other animals and for plants. A particular form of this spring 
rite w T as the Dithyramb. In Chapter VI this is discussed in 
connection with the famous Hagia Triada sarcophagos. 

From the spring dromenon with its magical intent of the 
renewal of the year, arose two of the main factors in Greek 
religious life and indeed in Greek civilization : (1) the agones 
or athletic contests, and (2) that other contest significantly bearing 
the same name, the agon of the drama. Different though they 
seem, and different as in fact they became, they arose from the 
same root, the spring dromenon conceived of as a conflict, a 
dramatic setting forth of the natural happening of the spring. 
This drama might with equal appropriateness be represented as a 
Death followed by a Rebirth or as a contest followed by a victory. 
Chapter VII, by Mr Cornford, deals with the greatest of the 
athletic agones of Greece, the Olympic Games, as arising from 
a race of the Kouretes. The victor in the race became the 

Introduction xiii 

daimon of the year, or, to give him a Greek name, the Eniautos- 
Daimon. In the victor is incarnate at once the daimon of the 
group and the ' luck ' of the year. It is this Bai/xcov 761/1/779 who 
is the real object of commemoration in Pindar's Odes ; hence the 
prominence of mythical elements. The particular hero is com- 
memorated rather as functionary than as individual personality. 
And here I owe to the reader an apology, or at least an 
explanation, for the introduction of a new term. I am well aware 
that no such conjunction as Eniautos-Daimon exists in Greek. I 
did not set out to invent any such word, nor did I even foresee its 
employment; it simply grew on my hands from sheer necessity. 
Dr Frazer, following Mannhardt, gave us 'Tree-Spirit, Corn-Spirit, 
Vegetation Spirit,' and the use of these terms has incalculably 
enlarged our outlook. My own debt to Dr Frazer is immeasurable. 
But even ' Vegetation Spirit ' is inadequate. A word was wanted 
that should include not only vegetation, but the whole world- 
process of decay, death, renewal. I prefer 'Eniautos' to 'year' 
because to us 'year' means something definitely chronological, 
a precise segment as it were of spatialized time; whereas 
Eniautos, as contrasted with etos, means a period in the etymo- 
logical sense, a cycle of waxing and waning. This notion is, 
I believe, implicitly though not always explicitly, a cardinal 
factor in Greek religion. Beyond it, to anything like our modern 
notion of non-recurrent evolution, the Greek never advanced. I 
prefer the word daimon to ' spirit ' because, as I try to show (in 
Chapter VIII), daimon has connotations unknown to our English 
' spirit.' 

At this point, before passing to the second great development 
from the spring-festival, the drama, recent controversy compelled 
a halt. Euhemerists of all dates, and quite recently Professor 
Ridgeway, have maintained that agonistic festivals and • drama 
alike take their rise, not in magical ceremonial nor in the worship 
of a god or daimon, but in funeral ceremonies at the grave of some 
historical individual, a dead hero or chieftain. Totemism, vegeta- 
tion spirits and the like are, according to Professor Ridgeway, 
secondary phenomena ; the primary principle is the existence of 
the individual soul after death and the necessity for placating it. 
Now it is indisputable that, at agonistic festivals and in the drama, 

xiv Introduction 

heroes are commemorated. For his emphasis of this fact and its 
relations to the origines of drama we all owe a deep debt to 
Professor Ridgeway. But the analysis of the term hero goes 
to show that the main factor in a hero is that very being whom 
Professor Ridgeway would reject or ignore, the Eniautos-Daimon 
himself. Chapter VIII is devoted to the analysis of the term 
hero, with results as follows. 

The hero on examination turns out to be, not a historical great 
man who happens to be dead, but a dead ancestor performing his 
due functions as such, who may in particular cases happen to have 
been a historical great man. As hero he is a functionary; he 
wear s the mask and absorbs the ritual of an Eniautos-Daimon. 
The myths of the heroes of Athens, from Cecrops to Theseus, show 
them as kings, that is as functionaries, and, in primitive times, 
these functionaries assume snake-form. The daimon-functionary 
represents the permanent life of the group. The individual dies, 
but the group and its incarnation the king survive. Le roi est 
mort, vive le roi. From these two facts, of group permanency and 
individual death, arose the notion of reincarnation, paling enesia. 
Moreover, since the group included plants and animals as well as 
human members, and these were linked by a common life, the 
rebirth of ancestors and the renewed fertility of the earth went on 
pari passu. Hence the Intichiuma ceremonies of Central Aus- 
tralians, hence the Revocation of ghosts at the Athenian 
Antkesteria. Gradually, as the group focussed on its king, the 
daimones of fertility, the collective ancestors, focussed on to an 
Agathos Daimon, a spirit of fertility, again figured as a snake. 

The later Attic heroes Ion and Theseus, unlike the earlier 
Cecrops and Erechtheus, do not assume snake-form. None the 
less they are functionaries rather than individual personalities — 
Ion a mere eponym, a group projection of the Ionians, and Theseus 
a hero because, as his mythology makes manifest, he took on the 
ritual and functions of the Eniautos-Daimon. This is clearly 
evidenced by his festival the Oschophoria, which can be recon- 
structed, partly from the recorded mythos, partly from the dromena. 
The principal factors are the agon or contest, the pathos a defeat or 
death, the triumphant reappearance or rebirth, the Epiphany. In 
a word the ritual of the Eniautos-Daimon is substantially the 

Introduction xv 

same as the ceremony of death and resurrection enacted as a rite 
of tribal initiation. This ritual with its attendant mythos lives on 
in the Mummers' Play and Carnival festivals still performed at 
spring time all over modern Europe. At Athens, reinvigorated 
by the Homeric saga, it issued in the splendid human diversity of 
the Attic drama. 

What then is the relation between the Homeric saga, which 
furnishes obviously the plots of Attic dramas, and the ancient 
ritual of the Eniautos-Daimon as embodied in the Dithyramb or 
Spring-Dance ? The answer is given in Prof. Murray's Excursus. 
A detailed examination of the plays and fragments extant shows 
that, while the content of the plots comes from the saga, the ritual 
forms in which that content is cast derive straight from the 
dromena of the Eniautos-Daimon. Such forms are the Prologue, 
the Agon, the Pathos, the Messenger's Speech, the Threnos, the 
Anagnorisis and the final Theophany. Certain of these ritual 
forms also survive in shadowy fashion in the Games, but here they 
are well-nigh submerged by a growing athleticism. In the drama 
literary art by some blind yet happy instinct felt their value and 
held to them tenaciously. 

Thus the ritual of the Eniautos-Daimon, who was at once the 
representation of the life of the group and the life of nature, 
issued in agonistic festivals and in the drama. We have now to 
watch another process, by which the daimon is transformed into a 
god and finally, for the Greeks, into that form of godhead which 
we call Olympian. To an analysis of this process the three 
concluding chapters are devoted. 

In Chapter IX the case of Herakles who tried and failed to be 
a god is examined. The reason of his failure is found to be 
instructive. Spite of all efforts to make him athanatos he remains 
an Eniautos-Daimon, doomed by function and attributes to a yearly 
death and resurrection. He is also doomed to eternally recurrent 
Labours and cannot join the Olympians who 'dwell at ease.' He 
remains, like Asklepios, the typical half human Saviour. Asklepios, 
from the extraordinary spread of his cult, took rank as a god, but 
his snake-form enshrines his old daimon nature and prevents his 
becoming an Olympian. His younger form, Teiesphoros, marks 
him clearly as Eniautos-Daimon. 

xvi Introduction 

Having seen how and why two daimones failed to become 
Olympians we have next to watch the transformation of one who 
succeeded, Apollo. 

In the evolution of the Euiautos-Daimon we noted the 
influence of periodicity ; the succession of the seasons was always 
important because they brought food to man. So far man's eyes 
are bent on earth as the food-giver. In his social structure the 
important features are Mother and Son, and, projecting his own 
emotions into nature round him, he sees in the earth the Mother 
as food-giver, and in the fruits of the earth her Son, her Kouros, 
his symbol the blossoming branch of a tree. The first divinity 
in the sequence of cults at Delphi is Gaia. 

But before long he notices that Sky as well as Earth influences 
his food supply. At first he notes the ' weather,' rain and wind 
and storm. Xext he finds out that the moon measures seasons, 
and to her he attributes all growth, all waxing and waning. Then 
his goddess is Phoibe. When later he discovers that the Sun 
really dominates his food supply, Phoibe gives place to Phoibos, 
the Moon to the Sun. The shift of attention, of religious focus, 
from Earth to Sky, tended to remove the gods from man ; they 
were purged but at the price of remoteness. Apollo begins on 
earth as Agueius and ends in heaven as Phoibos. 

Ritual at Delphi, as elsewhere, lagged behind myth and 
theology. Of the three great Ennaeteric Festivals, two, the 
Charila and the Herois, are concerned with the death and resur- 
rection, the Kathodos and Anodos, of the Earth ; they are essentially 
Eniautos Festivals. The third festival, the Stepterion, speaks still 
more clearly. It is the death of the Old Year envisaged as a snake, 
followed by the birth of the New as a Kouros carrying a branch. 
The same Kouros, representing Apollo in the Dapknephoria, carries 
a pole from which are hung the moon and sun. The God is thus 
manifestly a year-daimon. As the Son of his Father and as the 
god to whom the epheboi offered the first-fruits of their hair, he 
is also the Greatest Kouros. But unlike Dionysos, the other 
Greatest Kouros, he is a complete Olympian. Wherein lies the 
difference ? An answer is attempted in Chapter X. 

It is characteristic of an Olympian, as contrasted with a 
mystery-god like Dionysos, that his form is rigidly fixed and always 

Introduction xvii 

human. The Zeus of Pheidias or of Homer cannot readily shift 
his shape and become a bird, a bull, a snake, a tree. The 
Olympian has come out from the natural facts that begot him, 
and has become ' idealized.' The mystery-god was called a bull 
because he really was a bull — a bull full of vital mana, eaten at a 
communal feast. He died and was re-born, because the world of 
life which he embodies really dies and is re-born. But as the 
reflecting worshipper began to idealize his god, it seemed a degra- 
dation, if not an absurdity, to suppose that the god was a beast 
with the brute vitality of a beast. He must have human form 
and the most beautiful human form; human intellect and the 
highest human intellect. He must not suffer and fail and die; he 
must be ever blessed, ageless and deathless. It is only a step 
further to the conscious philosophy which will deny to God any 
human frailties, any emotions, any wrath or jealousy, and ulti- 
mately any character whatever except dead, unmeaning perfection, 
incapable of movement or change. 

Then at last we know these gods for what they are, intellectual 
conceptions merely, things of thought bearing but slight relation 
to life lived. Broadly speaking, these Olympians represent that 
tendency in thought which is towards reflection, differentiation, 
clearness, while the Eniautos-Daimon represents that other 
tendency in religion towards emotion, union, indivisibility. It 
might almost be said that the Olympians stand for articulate 
consciousness, the Eniautos-Daimon for the sub-conscious. 

Chapter XI brings us back to the Hymn. Whatever the 
difference between the religion of the Eniautos-Daimon and that 
of the Olympians, the forms of both these religions depend on, or 
rather express and represent, the social structure of the worshippers. 
Above the gods, supreme, eternally dominant, stands the figure 
of Themis. She is social ordinance, the collective conscience 
projected, the Law or Custom that is Right. 

Una superstitio superis quae reddita divis. 

The social structure represented by the Olympians is the same 
as that of the modern family, it is patrilinear. The figure of 
Dionysos, his thiasos, and his relation to his mother and the 
h. b 

xviii Introduction 

Maenads, is only to be understood by reference to an earlier social 
structure, that known as matrilinear. But the all-important 
point is not which particular structure is represented, but the 
general principle that social structure and the collective conscience 
which utters itself in social structure, underlie all religion. Themis 
conditions not only our social relations, but also our whole relation 
with the outside world. The Kouretes bid their daimon come 
'for the Year'; they also bid him, that crops and flocks may 
prosper, ' leap for fair Themis.' 

Ancient faith held, and in part modern religion still holds, 
that moral excellence and material prosperity must go together, 
that man by obeying Themis, the Right, can control the Way 
of Nature. This strange faith, daily disproved by reason, is in 
part the survival of the old conviction, best seen in totemism, 
that man and nature form one indivisible whole. A breach of 
Themis would offend your neighbours and produce quarrels ; quite 
equally it would offend the river or the earth and produce floods 
or famine. His emotion towards this unity the Greek uttered at 
first in the vague shape of a daimon, later, more intellectually, in 
the clear-cut figure of an Olympian god. But behind Gaia the 
Mother, and above even Zeus the Father, stands always the figure 
of Themis. 

Such in brief is the argument. And here it would be perhaps 
discreet to pause. I have neither desire nor aptitude for con- 
fessional controversy. As my main object is to elucidate Greek 
religion, it would be both safe and easy to shelter myself behind 
the adjective 'primitive' and say that with modern religion 
I have no concern. But I abhor obscurantism. It is to me 
among the deadliest of spiritual sins. Moreover, the human mind 
is not made in water-tight compartments. What we think about 
Greek religion affects what we think about everything else. 
So I cannot end a book on Greek religion without saying simply 
how the writing of it has modified my own views. 

I have come to see in the reli gious impulse a new value. It 
is, I believe, an attempt, instinctive and unconscious, to do what 
Professor Bergson bids modern philosophy do consciously and with 
the whole apparatus of science behind it, namely to ap prehend life 
as one , as indivisible , yet as perennial movement and change. 

Introduction xix 

But, profoundly as I also feel the value of the religious impulse, so 
keenly do I feel the danger and almost necessary disaster of each 
and every creed and dogma. For the material of religion is 
essentially the uncharted, the ungrasped, as Herbert Spencer 
would say, though with a somewhat different connotation, the 
' unknowable.' Further, every religious dogma errs in two ways. 
First, it is a confident statement about something unknown and 
therefore practically always untrustworthy ; secondly, if it were 
right and based on real knowledge, then its subject-matter would 
no longer belong to the realm of religion ; it would belong to 
science or philosophy. To win new realms for knowledge out of 
the unknown is part of the normal current of human effort ; but 
to force intellectual dogma upon material which belongs only to 
the realm of dim aspiration is to steer for a backwater of death. 
In that backwater lies stranded many an ancient galley, haunted 
by fair figures of serene Olympians, and even, it must be said, by 
the phantom of Him — the Desire of all nations — who is the same 
yesterday, to-day and for ever. The stream of life flows on, 
a saecular mystery ; but these, the eidola of man's market-place, 
are dead men, hollow ghosts. 

As to religious ritual, we may by degrees find forms that are 
free from intellectual error. The only intelligible meaning that 
ritual has for me, is the keeping open of the individual soul — that 
bit of the general life which life itself has fenced in by a separate 
organism — to other souls, other separate lives, and to the apprehen- 
sion of other forms of life. The avenues are never closed. Life 
itself, physical and spiritual, is the keeping of them open. Whether 
any systematized attempt to remind man, by ritual, of that whole 
of life of which he is a specialized fragment can be made fruitful 
or not, I am uncertain. 

My other debts are many. 

To Dr Verrall, who in a single sentence gave me material for 
my second chapter. The reader will probably feel more grateful 
for his single sentence — an inspired bit of translation — than for 
the commentary that attends it. 

To Mr Arthur Bernard Cook, who has spared time from his 
own valuable work to read through the greater part of my proofs. 
He has also, with a generosity as rare as it is characteristic, allowed 


xx Introduction 

me to borrow many suggestions from his forthcoming book Zeus, 
the appearance of which will, I know, mark an epoch in the 
study of Greek Religion. My sense of Mr Cook's great kind- 
ness is the deeper, because on some fundamental points we see 

Mr Francis Macdonald Cornford has again carried through for 
me the tedious task of proof-correcting. My chief debt to him is 
however for his chapter on The Origin of the Olympic Games. The 
conclusions he had independently arrived at in a course of lectures 
on Pindar, given at Trinity College during the Michaelmas Term 
of 1910, came as a quite unlooked for confirmation of my own views. 
This confirmation was the more valuable since it reached me at a 
time when my own argument was still inchoate and my conviction 
halting. My whole book — especially its last two chapters — owes 
much to Mr Cornford's constant help on points which will be 
developed more fully in his forthcoming work, From Religion to 

My thanks are also offered to 

Mrs Hugh Stewart and Miss Ruth Darwin for much kind help 
in the drawing of illustrations and the making of the index ; 

My College, which, by releasing me from teaching work, has 
given me the leisure necessary for writing ; 

The British School of Athens for permission to republish some 
part of my article on The Kouretes and Zeus Kouros, which appeared 
in the Annual, 1908-1909; 

The German Archaeological Institute, the Ecole Francaise 
of Berlin and Athens, and the Hellenic Society for permission 
to reproduce plates, and Messrs Macmillan for kindly allowing 
me the use of blocks from my Mythology and Monuments of 
Ancient Athens, now out of print; 

The University Press for undertaking the publication of my 
book, and especially their skilful proof-reader, whose care has 
saved me from many errors. 

And last I would thank my critics. 

They have kindly warned me that, in the study of Alpha there 
is danger lest I lose sight of Omega. Intent on origines, on the 
roots of things, I fail to gather in, they tell me, the tree's fair, 
final fruit and blossom. I thank them for the warning, but I 



think they have not read my Prolegomena, or at least its preface. 
I there confess, and still confess, that I have little natural love 
for what an Elizabethan calls ' ye Beastly Devices of ye Heathen.' 
Savages, save for their reverent, totemistic attitude towards 
animals, weary and disgust me, though perforce I spend long 
hours in reading of their tedious doings. My good moments 
are when, through the study of things primitive, I come to 
the better understanding of some song of a Greek poet or some 
saying of a Greek philosopher. 

It is because he has taught me to perceive, however faintly, 
this ' aroma of mysterious and eternal things ' that I have asked 
leave to dedicate my most unworthy book to a scholar who is 
also a poet. 

Jane Ellen Harrison. 

Newnham College, Cambridge. 
New Year's Eve, 1911. 



The Hymn of the Kouretes. 

Birth of Zeus in Crete. Worship on Dikte and Ida. Discovery of Hymn 
to the Kouretes. Its importance for the history of religion. Analysis of 
Hymn, (1) The Invocation, (2) The Aetiological Myth, (3) The resultant 
blessings. Zeus addressed as Kouros. Meaning of word Kouros. The 
Kouros attended by daimones. Analogy of Dionysos and his thiasos. 
The birth of Zeus. The attendant Kouretes. Mimic death and rebirth in 
mysteries of Zagreus. The Titans. Ritual of death and rebirth explained 
by primitive rites of tribal initiation. The social rebirth as a tribesman. 
Initiation as a Rite de passage. Rite of rebirth among the Wiradthuri of 
New South Wales, among the Akikuyu of British East Africa. The 
Kouretes as paidotropkoi, as armed and orgiastic dancers, as daimones, as 
seers, as magicians and culture heroes. The Kouros a projection of the 
Kouretes. The god a projection of the collective emotion of the group, 
pp. 1—29. 


The Dithyramb, the ^pat/xevov and the Drama. 

The Kouretes on the 'stage' of Phaedrus in the Dionysiac theatre. 
Dionysos Dithyrambos as Kouros. Meaning of Dithyramb. According to 
Plato, Dithyramb is a Birth-song of Dionysos. Dithyrambos in the Bacchae. 
Dithyrambos reflects the rite of Rebirth. The Bacchants reflect the Mothers 
of a matriarchal society. Dionysos as babe and as Kouros. The Dithyramb 
as origin of tragedy. The drama and the dromenon. Psychological analysis 
of the dromenon. It is an act pre-done or re-done and done collectively. 
The exarchos and the protokoures. The mystery -god as ' Kouros.' Dionysos 
reflects his thiasos as the Kouros reflects the Kouretes. pp. 30 — 49. 

xxiv Table of Contents 


The Kouretes, the Thunder-Rites and Mana. 

The Kouretes continued. Idaean Daktyls of Mt Ida as medicine men. 
Idaean ritual later in character than Diktaean. Epimenides as the 'new 
Koures.' His magic sleep is a sleep of initiation. Kouretes develop from 
initiated tribesmen into magical fraternity. Rites of adolescence and rites of 
ordination. The rite of the Thunders. The child and the thunder-stone. 
Thunder and the Bull-Roarer. The rhombos. The ' worship ' of the thunder- 
bolt. Sanctities precede divinities. Le sacre c'est le pere du dieu. Analysis 
of mana, orenda, wa-kon'-da. Greek analogies. Kratos and Bia. Styx, 
Horkos. pp. 50 — 74. 


(a) Magic and Tabu. 

Meaning of mageia. Magic is the positive, tabu the negative attitude 
towards mana. Mana is the manipulation of sanctities. The thunder- and 
rain -maker on a fragment of a Dipylon vase. The shield and the gourd- 
rattles. Salmoneus a weather-maker. Magical rain-making at Krannon. 
Magical terms factura, krtya, zauber etc. express doing. Magic is a dromenon, 
behind doing is desire. Kama, kratu and karma. Le de'sir c'est le pere de la 
sorcellerie. Psychology of magic. The ' worship' of the shield. The tool as 
extension of personality. Man as tool-maker : Krjka and icepawos. Thunder- 
bolts and celts. Thunder and tabu. Idea of religio. The Horkos, the 
abaton and tabu. The hypaethral sanctuaries. The trident mark of the 
Erechtheion. The abaton of Thebes and the Bacchae. 

(b) Medicine-Bird and Medicine-King. 

Magic and tabu in Hesiod. The 8e2os dvrjp as man of sanctities. Contrast 
of tone in Theogony and Works and Days. The weather-birds and beasts and 
the heavenly signs. ' Knowing in birds.' Use of opvis. The woodpesker as 
mantic bird and Weather-King. Picas in Ovid and Vergil. Picus and Nuina 
Pompilius. Picus, Faunus, and Idaean Daktyls. Conflict of old order and 
new. Weather-King and Olympian. The mana of birds. Bird-dances, bird- 
priestesses, the bird-Artemis. The thunder-bird. Leda and Nemesis. The 
swan of Delos. pp. 75 — 117. 

Table of Contents xxv 


Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice. 

The Kouretic rite of the Omophagia. The Omophagia a communal, 
sacramental feast. Nature of sacrament best understood in the light of 
totemism. Psychology of totemism. The word totem means group. Totem- 
istic thinking expresses unity of human members of group, and community with 
non-human members. Totemistic thinking a stage in epistemology. Totem- 
ism reflects group thinking. The Intichiuma ceremonies. fie6e£is (participation) 
precedes fiifirjcris (imitation). Idea of imitation supposes severance. Gradual 
segregation of god from worshippers. Worship involves idea of segregation. 
Totemistic thinking survives in Greek ritual and mythology. Instances. 
Practice of tattooing among Thracians, theriomorphic gods. Sacrament 
contrasted with gift-sacrifice. Sacrament necessarily precedes gift-sacrifice. 
Eating the most effective form of sacrament. Food an early 'focus of 
attention.' The Bouphonia as a primitive sacrament. The Year-Bull at 
Magnesia. The Hosioter at Delphi. The dais or communal meal and the 
thiasos or community. Dionysos Isodaites. pp.118 — 157. 


The Dithyramb, the Spring Festival and the Hagia Triada 


The bull-sacrifice on the Hagia Triada sarcophagos. Its object to bring 
mana to fruit-trees. The Bird, the Axe and the Tree. The Bull-sacrament 
of Atlantis, of Ilium. Sanctity of fruit-trees. Relation to Ge Karpophoros. 
Sanctities of the Erechtheion analogous to those of the Hagia Triada sarco- 
phagos. The Pandroseion and the Bouphonia and the Hersephoria. Sanctity 
of Dew and Rain. The Moriae, Zeus Morios and Kataibates. The Hieros 
Oamos of Ouranos and Gaia. ve. kvc. The Danaides. The Bird on the 
Axe marks a Spring-Festival. Hera and the Cuckoo. Bird-Tree, Bull and 
Maiden on Cretan Coins. The Bouphonia a Year-Festival. Meaning of 
ivuarros. The Year and the Horae. The Spring as Hora. The Seasonal, 
Lunar and Solar Years. The Charites as Horae. The Moon-Year and the 
Salii. The Salii and Mars. Mamurius and Anna Perenna. The Kouretes 
and the Sun. Satyrs and Helios. The Dithyramb as Spring- Song of the 
Year-Festival. Dithyramb and Dithoramb. The 'Bull-Driving Dithyramb.' 
Dithyramb and Tragedy. Song of Bull-Driving and Goat-Song. The 
Epheboi and the Bull at the Great Dionysia at Athens. 

Scene on the reverse of sarcophagos. Offering of bull-calves to youth. 
Is he Dionysos or a dead hero or the Kouros 1 To answer question we must 
consider another dromenon, the agonistic festival of Olympia. pp. 158 — 211. 

xxvi Table of Contents 


The Origin of the Olympic Games. 

Old theory that they were ad aniraos recreandos. Professor Ridgeway's 
funeral theory. Relation to Hero-Worship. Tindar's account in first 
Olympic Ode. Ritual rites in Pelops : legend. The contest with Oinomaos. 
The victor as King. The King as Year-god. Date of Olympian festival. 
Marriage of Sun and Moon. The Heraea. The Foot-race for the Bride. The 
Foot-race of the Kouretes. The Olive-branch. The Mother and Child and 
Kouretes at Olympia. Sosipolis at Olyrnpia and in Magnesia. The Feast 
of Tantalus. The Boiling of Pelops. The Kouretes at Ephesus. The origin 
of TfKvorfHiylai. The Sevrepai Tpdne£ai. Festival of the Basilai. The Basileus. 
The Victor and the Hero. General conclusion. The Olympic Games like 
the drama rose out of a Year-Festival, and centre round a Year-daimon > 
whose title and functions are taken over by the Hero. pp. 212 — 259. 


Daimon and Hero. 

What is a hero 1 Examination of Attic heroes. Cecrops as daimon-snake. 
Erichthonios as daimon-snake. The snake king. The eponymous hero. Ion 
as daimon-hero. The daimon-snake represents life not death. The snake 
as symbol of palingenesia. Palingenesia is not aBavaa-ia. Palingenesia as 
Reincarnation, birth back again. Reincarnation as doctrine of totemistic 
peoples. Reincarnation of ancestors among Central Australians. Intichiuma 
ceremonies commemorate ancestors. The Alcheringa as men of the Golden 
Age. Pindar's ttXovtos, dperr] and the Saipav yevedXios. Hesiod's ancestors 
as daimones. The dead as 7rXouro8drai. 

The Intichiuma and the Anthesteria. Both involve notion of Reincarna- 
tion. The Pithoigia and the Agathos Dairnon. Agathos Daimon and Agathe 
Tyche. Snake-shape of Agathos Daimon as fertility-daimon. Eumenides 
and snakes. Kychreus the Snake-king. 

The Choes. The Chytroi. The expulsion of the Keres. Ghosts as 
fertility-daimones. The snake and the eidola. The thumos and the eidolon. 
Ghosts and seeds. The panspermia and its correlative the panlcarpia. The 
Kernophoria, Liknophoria and Thargelia. 

Hermes Chthonios as Agathos Daimon. Zeus Ktesios as Agathos Daimon. 
Ambrosia and Zeus Ktesios. The Penates and the Ktesioi. The Roman 
Genius of the penu-s. The Genius is primarily of the group, later of the 
individual. The Dioscuri as Agathoi Daimones, as theoi. 

Table of Contents xxvii 

The ' Hero-Feasts.' Snake and cornucopia as symbols of the Agathos 
Daimon and the hero. The daimon proper is a functionary but gets 
'contaminated' with the individual dead man. 

Theseus as Hero-daimon. His ritual in the Oschophoria is that of a 
Year-daimon. The Eiresione. The raythos of a Year-daimon. Analysis of 
mythos. The Eniautos-mythos. Its elements. Its monotony. Its survival 
in folk-plays to-day. Attic drama has the forms of an Eniautos-mythos but 
the material of the Homeric saga. Hippolytos as Year-Daimon and Kouros. 
pp. 260—363. 

Excursus on the Ritual Forms preserved in Greek tragedy. 

Tragedy in origin a Sacer Ludus of Dionysos as Eniautos-Daimon. Its 
elements are an Agon, a Pathos, a Messenger, a Threnos, an Anagnorisis, 
followed by a Theophany. The Satyrs and the Peripeteia. Necessary 
sequence of these ritual forms. The Theophany in iEschylus, Sophocles and 
Euripides. The Prologue and the Prorrhesis. Reassertion in Euripides of 
Sacer Ludus forms. The 'fundamental paradox.' pp. 341 — 363. 


From Daimon to Olympian. 

Herakles as transition figure between daimon and Olympian god. 
Herakles as fertility- and year-daimon — as Herm — as Thallophoros. His 
attributes the branch and the cornucopia. The Herakles of the Trachiniae 
as daimon of the Sun-year. Herakles as Idaean Daktyl. Ritual of Herakles 
as Year-Daimon and as Olympian. Yearly sacrifice characteristic of heroes. 
Herakles as Alexikakos of epheboi, as husband of Hebe. Asklepios and 
Telesphoros as Year-daimones. 

The sequence of cults at Delphi. Prologue to Eumenides. Gaia and 
Themis. Phoibe as Moon. Oracle of Night at Delphi. Worship of Earth 
precedes worship of Metarsia and Meteora. JEschylus supposes a peaceful 
evolution, Euripides a conflict of cults. 

Ritual of Gaia. Omphalos as sacred stone, as grave-mound. Omphalos 
and beehive tombs. 'Tomb of Tantalos.' ' Daktyl's Monument.' Grave 
mound and Aguieus-cone. Apollo Aguieus. Omphalos at Argos. 

Ritual of Gaia in Ennaeteric Festivals at Delphi. The Charila and 
Herois. Heroines as fertility-daimones. The ' Bringing up of Semele.' The 
Anodos on vases. Satyrs at the Anodos. The Stepterion. An Eniautos- 
festival. The Python as snake-king. Kadmos and Jason as snake-slayers. 
The snake as daimon of tree and well. The Spartoi and the dragon's teeth. 
The Apollo of the Daphnephoria as Phoibos. Apollo as Kouros. Apellon. 
Apollo and Dionysos as Kouroi. Contrast between the two. Both are 
Megistoi Kouroi. Only Apollo becomes fully Olympianized. pp. 364 — 444. 

xxviii Table of Contents 


The Olympians. 

Early nature-worship of the Greeks. Later complete anthropomorphism. 
The Olympian sheds his plant or animal form. This causes loss as well as 
gain. The Olympian refuses to be an Earth-daimon of snake form. The 
Gigantomachia. Snake-form of giants as earth-born. The Olympian refuses 
to be a daimon of air and sky. Titanomachia. Prometheus as Titan. The 
Titans and Giants represent to. 7reX»pia. Okeanos as Titan, repas and 
7rAa>p. The Peloria. Orthodox Greek contempt of to. /xerapa-ia and ra 
fierewpa. Possible reaction against Persian naturism. Ionian philosophy and 
Persian theology. Iranian mysticism in Orphic religion. Orphic cosmogony. 
Melanippe the Wise. Orpheus and Sun-worship. 

The Olympians refuse the functions of the Eniautos-Daimon. Their npai 
are honours claimed, not functions performed. They claim immortality — and 
feel (pdovos. They are highly individualized and personalized. Analogies 
from language. The holophrase and the collective and selective plurals. 
The Olympians as specialized Moirai, as objets oVart. pp. 445 — 479. 



The Olympians are a social group formed by a social convention. Themis 
is the social conscience on which depends social structure. Themis as 
prophetic power of Gaia. Her cult at Delphi, Athens, Olympia. Functions 
of Themis in Homer. She summons and presides over assemblies, and over 
the common feast. Themis and Doom. The Cyclopes are alhemistes. Themis 
at first of the group, later of the polls. Religion based on Themis because it 
is the representation of the collective conscience. Professor Durkheim's 
definition of religion. The social imperative and the sense of mystery. 
Physis and Themis. 

Knowledge of social structure essential to understanding of any particular 
religion. Social structure of the Olympians is patriarchal and of the family. 
Social structure of the Kouretes, the Mother and the Kouros is of the matri- 
linear group. Kronos as King and Zeus as Father. Kronos as Year-daimou. 
The Apatouria and the Tritopatores reflect patrilinear structure. Zeus, 
Athjena and Apollo as a trinity of Phratrioi. Apollo and Artemis originally 
Mother and Kouros. 

The Eiresione as Korythalia belonged to Artemis as Kourotrophos. The 
Kourotrophos as izorvia drjp&v. Holocaust to the Kouretes and to Artemis 
as iroTvia Orjpiov. Artemis the matrilinear Mother becomes the patri- 
archal Sister. Matrilinear structure survives also in the Hybristika. Rite 

Table of Contents xxix 

de passage from sex to sex and age to age symbolized by interchange of 
clothes. Initiation rites and the oracle of Trophonios. Mnemosyne and 
Anamnesis. Rite de passage from the profane to the sacred world and vice 
versd. Mnemosyne as revelation rather than mere memory. Plato's debt to 
initiation ceremonies. 

Themis, Dike and the Horai. Hymn to the Kouretes ends with Themis. 
Themis as mother of the Horai. Themis as mother of Dike. Dike is the 
Way of Nature, which is regarded as the Wheel of Life. Dike in Hades 
because she is cycle of life. The Swastika, Rta and Tao. Primitive belief 
that moral goodness and material prosperity go together. Themis has 
power to affect Dike because notion of Dike originates in social order. The 
Golden Lamb. Alpha not to be confused with Omega, pp. 480 — 535. 

Index 537 — 559 


p. 3, 1. 1. 'But Palaikastro... is not Dikte.' At the moment of going to press 
I receive, by the kindness of Monsieur Toutain, a pre-print of his article, V Autre 
de Psychro et le AtKraiov avrpov (Rev. de lHistoire des Religions, lxiv. 1911, Nov. — 
Dec). The Diktaeau cave of antiquity is not, according to M. Toutain, the cave 
excavated by Mr Hogarth at Psycbro, but has yet to be sought in the easternmost 
part of Crete, near to the recently discovered temple at Palaikastro. I hope that 
M. Toutain is right, as it would relieve my argument of some embarrassments, but, 
till a cave comparable to that at Psychro comes to light near Palaikastro, nothing 
can be certain. 

p. 12, 1. 12. 'The Kouros, the young Zeus.' The Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. 
AlKT-q, says, ' evravda 5e Atos aya\/xa ayeveiov 'iararo. Xeyerai /cat AiKTaiov.' 

p. 32, 1. 2. ' Tragedy... originated with the leaders of the dithyramb.' It is 
worth noting that Solon in a lost elegy is reported to have connected the earliest 
tragedies with Ariou, the supposed originator of the dithyramb. 7-775 8e rpaycpdias 
Trptorov 5pafj.a ' Apiwv 6 Mrjdv/j.i'aios du-qyayev (Jicnrep 26\wi' iv reus €iriypa<po(ievais 
'EXeyelais £5L5a<TKe. See the commentary of John the Deacon on Hermogenes, Hepl 
jmedSdov 5eiv6Tr}Tos, published by H. Rabe, Aus Rhetoren-Handschriften, in Rhein. 
Mus. lxiii. 1908, p. 150. Dr Nilsson in his valuable Der Ursprung d. Trag'ddie 
(Neue Jahrbucher, xxvn. 1911, p. 611, note 1), which by his kindness has just 
reached me, questions the tradition. For the historical relation of the Dithyramb to 
hero-cults see Dr W. Schmid, Zur Geschichte des griechischen Dithyrambus, Tubingen, 

1901, a monograph which I regret to say has only just come to my knowledge. 

p. 56, note. To the bibliography of the thunder-stone must now be added 
Dr Chr. Blinkenberg's able monograph, The Thunder Weapon in Religion and 
Folk-Lore, which has just appeared in the Cambridge Archaeological and Ethno- 
graphical Series, 1911. 

p. 69, note 1. Omaha initiations. By Miss Fletcher's great kindness I have 
now received her splendid monograph, The Omaha Tribe, which she publishes in 
connection with Mr Francis la Flesche (himself a member of the tribe) in the 
27th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1911. 

p. 82, 1. 24. For krtya read krtya. 

p. 93, 1. 6. 'Behold God's Son.' This and all translations from Euripides 
are by Professor Gilbert Murray. Other translations he has kindly made for me 
are acknowledged in their place. For the remainder I am myself responsible. 

p. 113, 1. 32. 'The Persian Artemis.' See Mr M. S. Thompson's article, The 
Asiatic or Winged Artemis, J. H. S. xxix. 1909, p. 286. 

p. 206, 1. 12. 'Tragedy, the Goat-Song.' I wish entirely to withdraw my 
explanation of rpayipdia as ' spelt-song ' first suggested in the Classical Review, 

1902, p. 331, and further amplified in relation to Bromios and the supposed title 
Braites in my Prolegomena, pp. 411 — 422. All three interpretations fall together. 
Since my ill-starred attempt, two other etymologies of tragedy have appeared. 
Mr Louis H. Gray, in the Classical Quarterly, vi. 1912, p. 60, proposes to derive 
Tpayytjia from an Indo-Germanic base *tereg (of which rpayo would be the second 
'full grade'), with the meaning strong, terrible; tragedy would be the 'singing of 
bold or terrible things,' comedy would be the ' singing of revelrous things.' A weak 
point of this suggestion is that *tereg appears to have left in Greek no other 
cognates, and is the ' bold or terrible one ' a fitting description of a goat ? Professor 
Margoliouth, The Poetics of Aristotle, 1911, p. 61, points out that, with reference 

xxxii Addenda et Corrigenda 

to the voice, the verb rpayi^eiv means ' to be cracked,' i.e. when at puberty the voice 
changes to harshness and irregularity of pitch. A tragic song is then a song of 
irregular pitch, full of — in the Greek sense — anomalies. This would suit Plutarch's 
account of the Dithyramb (infra, p. 156). I would gladly avail myself of any 
derivation that might connect tragedy with puberty and initiation-ceremonies, but 
I fear rpaycpdia and rpayi^eiv alike ultimately derive from the canonical rpdyos, and 
that it is to some ceremonial connected with a goat that we must look for the 
origin of the word. 

p. 214, 1. 18. ' No material evidence.' Dr Pfister in his im 
Altertum, 1909, p. 396 and passim, shows convincingly that the evidence of 
excavation is dead against Euhemerism. ' Im allgemeinen wird man behaupten 
diirfen dass wenn die Griechen einmal die "Graber" ihrer Heroen aufgegraben 
hatten, sie in den weitaus meisten Fallen keine Gebeine gefunden haben wurden. 
Die " Graber" waren alte Kultstatten.' Dr Pfistei''s testimony is doubly valuable 
as he has no theoretical axe to grind. 

p. 271. 'Reincarnation' — ' iraXiyyeveaia..'' See now Dr Torgny Segerstedt's 
important article on metempsychosis, Sjdlavandringslarans ursprung, in Le 
Monde Orientale, Archive pour PHistoire et l'Ethnographie de l'Europe orientale 
et de l'Asie, Uppsala, 1910, pp. 43 — 87, known only to me at present through the 
review in Rec. de VHistoire des Religions, lxiii. 1911, p. 215. In the early 
Upanishads the dead go the moon, which then waxes ; when the moon wanes the 
dead are reincarnated on the earth, a doctrine strangely akin to that of Plutarch, 
noted infra, p. 511. The custom of carrying the bride over the threshold is, 
according to Dr Segerstedt, connected with the burial of ancestors below the 
threshold and also anthropophagy of dead kin. The dead here and in many other 
customs are regarded as sources of fertility. 

p. 333, note 1. 'The death and resurrection mime.' For analogies in the 
Rig Veda see Dr L. von Schroeder's illuminating Mysterium undMimus im Rig Veda, 
1908. For the analogy of the spring Zagmuk festival see Dr C. Fries, Das 
Zagmukfest auf Scheria und der Ursprung des Dramas (Mitt. d. Vorderasiatischen 
Gesellschaft, 1910), which contains much valuable material and many suggestions, 
though I am not yet satisfied that his main contention is established. 

p. 373, note 1. ' How Prometheus tricked Zeus.' See Ada Thomsen, Der Trug 
des Prometheus, in Archiv f. Religionswiss. xn. 1909, p. 460. 

p. 479, 1. 8. ' M. Bergson has shown.' See now L' Intuition Philosophique, 
Revue de Metaphysique, xix. 1911, pp. 809—827. 

p. 486, note 3. 'M. Durkheim's views.' See now G. Davy, La Sociologie de 
M. Durkheim in Rev. Philosophique, xxxvi. pp. 42 — 71 and 160 — 185. 



Zey TTdkNTOON Apx*, 

Zey, coi rreMnoo t&ytan ymnoon apx&N. 

Zeus , the Father of Gods and Men, w as horn, men fabled, 
in t he island of Crete . So far there was substantial agreement. 
It may be that this uniformity reflects some half-unconscious 
tradition that in Crete were the beginnings of that faith and 
practice which if it cannot be called Hellenic religion was at least 
the substratum on which Hellenic religion was based. No one 
now thinks he can have an adequate knowledge of Greek art with- 
out a study of the Mycenaean and Minoan periods, and, since the 
roots of religion strike as deep as or deeper than the roots of art, 
no one now will approach the study of the Olympian Zeus without 
seeking for the origin of the god in his reputed birth-place. 

By the most fortunate of chances, at Palaikastro on the eastern 
coast of Crete, just the very material needed for this study has come 
to light, a ritual Hymn commemo rating the l"^" ^ f <-"o infant. 
Zeus. The Hymn itself is, as will be seen, late, but it embodies 
very early material, material indeed so primitive that we seem at 
last to get back to the very beginnings of Greek religion, to a 
way of thinking that is not in our sense religious at all, but that 
demonstrably leads on to religious faith and practice. This 
primitive mode of faith and practice it is, I believe, of the first 
importance that we should grasp and as fully as may be realise. 
It lets us see myth as well_as ritual in the making, it will even 
disclose certain elements that lie deep embedded in early 
Greek philosophy. The new, or at least partially new, outlook 
opened by the Hymn is easy to misconceive, and, in the first flush 
h. 1 

2 The Hymn of the Kouretes [oh. 

of discovery, easy perhaps to over-emphasize. It needs patient 
scrutiny and some effort of the historical imagination. To such 
a scrutiny and to conclusions arising from it the following chapters 
will be devoted. 

Before the meaning of the Hymn is discussed the circumstances 
of its finding must be made clear. This Hymn, about which our 
main enquiry into the origins of Greek religion will centre, was 
not found at Knossos nor even at Phaestos, places whose names 
are now in every man's mouth, but at the remote seaport town of 
Palaikastro, a name familiar only to archaeologists. If Palaikastro 
should ever be a household word to classical scholars in general, it 
will be as the place of the finding of this Hymn. The marshy 
plain out of which Palaikastro rises is almost certainly the ancient 
Heleia, known to us through inscriptions 1 as a tract of land over 
which the dwellers in Itanos and Hierapytna disputed. Near to 
Heleia these same inscriptions tell us lay the sanctuary of 
Diktaean Zeus. 

Qur Hymn bids the god come to Dikte. The two great 
mountain peaks of Crete, Ida and Dikte, both claimed to be the 
birth-place of Zeus. Dikte, though less splendid and dominant, 
has the earlier and better claim. Hesiod 2 , our earliest authority, 
places the birth-story at Lyktos on the north-western spur of 

To Lyktos first she came, bearing the child 

As black night swiftly fell. 

There is a shade of suspicious emphasis on the 'first,' as of one 
whose orthodoxy is impeached. When the glory of Cnossos over- 
shadowed and overwhelmed lesser and earlier sanctities, Ida was 
necessarily supreme, and it required some courage to support the 
claims of Dikte. Diodorus 3 with true theological tact combines 
the two stories : the god was born indeed on Dikte but educated 
by the Kouretes on Mount Ida. 

1 Dittenberger, n. 929, line 37 'It&vloi irb'Kiv olKovvres eiridaKaaoiov xupav ?x°" Tes 
■irpoyoviKr)v yeirovovoav twl tov Aids tov AiktolIov iepQi, and see lines 45 and 65. 

2 Hes. Theog. 481 

ivda fj.(v Ikto (pepovaa dorjv 8ia vvkto. fii\ai.vav 

wptbTrjv is Xvktov. 
s V. 70 Kara 5e rhv "I8i]v, iv 77 awe/ir/ Tpatpr/vai tov de6v.,.avSpoi6£vTa. 5' avrbv 
<j>aaL irp&Tov irbKiv Kiiaox irtpl rrjv AiKrav, 6irov nal rr)i> yeveciv ai/rov yevicrdai 

i] Discovery at Palaikastro 3 

But Palaikastro, as a glance at the map 1 in Fig. 1 will show, 
is not Dikte — not even near Dikte. All eastern Crete with its 
towns of Itanos and Praisos, where dwelt the Eteokretans, and 
the modern sites of Zakro and Palaikastro are cut off from the 
mountain mass of Dikte by the low narrow isthmus 2 that joins 

Fig. 1. Map of Crete. 

the trading towns of Minoa (Gournia) and Hierapytna (Hiera- 
petra). How comes it then that in remote Palaikastro Diktaean 
Zeus is worshipped, that in Palaikastro the ruins of his temple 
have come to light ? This brings us to the question of chronology. 

f Strabo 3 ,/ in discussing the origin of Cretan institutions makes 
an interesting remark. ' Among the Cretans/ he says, ' when 
their warlike cities, and especially that of Knossos, were ravaged, 
certain of their customs were kept up among the inhabitants of 
Lyttos and Gortyna and other of the lesser towns rather than by 
the Knossians.' Here we have much history in a nutshell. 
Conspicuous cities pay the toll of their splendour. Palaikastro is 
but a lesser town (ttoXl-^vlov) : there we may hope to find customs 
surviving that had died down at Knossos. 

In the Hymn before us just such customs are enshrined. The 
actual stele was engraved in the second or third century after 

1 Eeproduced with slight modifications from B.S.A. vin. p. 287, Fig. 1. 

2 Strabo, x. 475 irXarvTaTTf 8e kcltcl to fieaov eari, waXw 8' ivTevdev els (TTevuirepov 
tov wporepov'iirTovaiv ladpbv ai yoves irepl e^rjKOVTa ffTadiwv, tov diro "Hivyas 
rrts AuttIuv cis lepdirvrvav Kai to AifivKOv iriXayos. 

3 Strabo, X. 481 KaKwdeiauv twv wbXewv Kai paXiffTa ttjs Kviocraiojv, twv TroXeptKwv 
petvai de Tiva tQiv wapd Avttiois Kai TopTvviois Kai aWois Ticri woXlxviois 
fidXXov rj irap eKeivois. Clement, citing as his authority the Nostoi of Antikleides, 
says that human sacrifice was offered by the Lyctii, a Cretan tribe (Book in. 4). 


4 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

Christ 1 ; that is clear from the very cursive character of the letters. 
But the poem inscribed is much earlier, probably about 300 B.C. 
We have oddly enough two copies on the back and face of the 
same stone. It seems to have presented serious difficulties to the 
stone-mason. The first copy whether from another stone or from 
a MS. was so faulty that it had to be redone. This looks as if 
matter and language were unfamiliar. For some reason which 
now escapes us, an old ritual hymn was revived. How far it was 
rewritten we cannot now say. Its material is, as will presently be 
shown, primaeval ; we cannot date it, it is vofxifiov. 

The cave on Dikte where Zeus was born has been identifie d 
a nd thoroughly excavated 2 . It is a large double cavern about 
500 feet above the modern village of Psychro in the upland of 
Lasithi. Lyttos, of which the ruins still remain, lies on one spur 
of the north-western peak of Dikte (Lasithi) ; on the opposite spur 
is the Psychro cave. In the lowest stratum of the deposit in the 
cave is found Kamares ware, above that Mycenaean ware, and so 
on in regular sequence to the geometric period, i.e. about the 
eighth century B.C. After that, save in quite sporadic cases the 
votive offerings cease. It is impossible to avoid the conclusion 
that the cult in the cave came to an end. Dikte it is probable was 
superseded by Ida. In a treaty 3 between Lyttos and Olons, Zeus 
is sworn by, but his title is BiSdras ' Zeus of Ida,' not At/crcuo?. 
On his own mountain ' He of Dikte ' was superseded. 

Central Crete in her public documents swears by Zeus of Ida, 
but a little group of cities in the remote eastern district held to 
the earlier cult. Itanos, the northernmost of the towns on the 
east coast, was said to have been founded by one of the Kouretes. 
In an inscription 4 found on the modern site (Erimopolis) the 
citizens swear first of all by Zeus Diktaios and Hera and the gods 
in Dikte. At Eteokretan Praisos, Strabo 5 , quoting Staphylos, 
says there was the sanctuary of Diktaean Zeus. Athenaeus 6 

1 See Prof. Bosanquet, B.S.A. xv. 1908—1909, p. 347, and Prof. Gilbert Murray, 
p. 364. 

2 For full description see Mr D. G. Hogarth, The Dictaean Cave, B.S.A. vi. 
p. 94 and especially p. 115. 

3 C.I.A. ii. 549, and see B. C. Bosanquet, op. cit. p. 349. 

4 Blass (in Collitz-Bechtel, in 2 . ), 5058 [Td]5e wfuxrav rot. 'lrdviot ird[vTes~i Aia 
Aiktolov Kai "Hpav Kai d[eo]vs tovs iv AUrai Kai.... 

5 Strabo, x. 475 ...wv (tuiv 'Ereo/ipTjrwc) elvai iro\ix"iov llpacrov 6wov to tov Aiktcliov 
Atbs iepbv. For an inscription of Praisos in which ' Diktaios ' may be with great 
probability restored see Prof. Bosanquet, op. cit. p. 350. 

6 Athen. ix. 375, quoting Agathocles, Mvdevov<nv iv KprjTrj yevio-dat tt\v Aids 

i] Zeus of Dikte 5 

notes that the Praisians sacrifice to a sow, and he connects the 
custom with the ' unspeakable sacrifice ' which took place on 
Dikte in commemoration of the fact that Zeus was suckled by 
a sow. Settlers from Hierapytna 1 take their oath by two Zeuses, 
Zeus Oratrios and Zeus Diktaios. 

It is clear then that though in classical days central Crete was 
dominated by the Zeus of Ida, Zeus of Dikte 2 , whose worship went 
on during the bronze and iron ages in the great cave at Lyttos, 
was a living power in the eastern and especially the north-eastern 
extremity of Crete. 

Zeus of Ida might and did dominate central Crete, but in the 
eastern and especially the north-eastern extremities Zeus of Dikte, 
Zeus of the Birth-cave, lived on in classical and even post-classical 
days. His was a name to swear by and at Palaikastro he had 
a temple and a precinct. It is this temple that has been recovered 
for us by the excavations of the British School 3 carried on in 
1902 — 1905. These excavations have abundantly shown that in 
the third Late-Minoan period (after 1500 B.C.) Palaikastro was the 
seat of a ruling prince, after Knossos, Phaistos and Gournia had 
been destroyed. Not a stone of the temple was standing, but 
from architectural fragments found scattered on the site some 
notion of its size and its decoration can be gleaned. The temenos 
wall 4 can be traced for about thirty-six metres. The temple stood 
not as the Hellenic temples of Troy and Mycenae at the summit of 
the hill, but on a platform artificially levelled, about half-way 
down. The bulk of the votive offerings belong to the archaic 
period and show that the sanctuary was in full prosperity from the 
seventh to the fifth century B.C. Bronze shields of the same style 
and date as those found in the cave on Mt. Ida have also come to 

rtKvwcnv eirl tt?s ALkttjs iv 17 kcli dwopp-qTos ylverai dvaia...TlpalcnoL 5e Kal iepa pefrovcriv 
vl Kal axnri TrporeXrjs aureus 77 dvcria vevo/MffTai. 

1 Blass, 5039 'Op-vvui rav 'Eicrriav Kal Zrjva 'Oparpiov Kal Zrjva AiKTatov. 

2 It is even probable that the name of Dikte was transferred to one of the peaks, 
perhaps the cone of Modhi near Praisos and Palaikastro. Strabo expressly states 
that Dikte is only 100 stadia from Salmonion, the north-east promontory of Crete, 
and that it is not ' as Aratus alleges ' near Ida, but distant from it 1000 stadia 
towards the east. Aratus is probably describing the old Dikte of the cave. Strabo 
must intend some more easterly peak. The conjecture is due to Prof. Bosanquet, 
op. cit. p. 351. 

3 See Excavations at Palaikastro, iv. B.S.A. xi. p. 299, PI. ix. — xv. 

4 This temenos wall is mentioned in an inscription (Dittenberger, 11. 929, 1. 75) 
t6 5e iepbv Kal rbv ireplfidKov avrov idiots o~r]fji.elois Kal ir€pioi.Ko8ofi7)n,a(nv irepiexonevov. 

6 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

The three main fragments of the inscribed Hymn were found 
a little to the south of the temple in a deep pocket of earth and 
stones which had been dug right down into the Minoan strata, 
probably in some recent search for building stones. The missing 
pieces were carefully searched for over the whole field of excavation, 
but they have either been destroyed or carried away as building 
material. They may still come to light built into churches or 
houses in the neighbourhood. More than half the stele is missing, 
but, thanks to the fact that there are two copies of the text back 
and front, not nearly half of the text. One of the fragments, that 
which contains the opening lines in the fair copy, is reproduced in 
Fisr. 2. 






' iNWi\Mru>f hloCAlKTAUtQEN I 
6 Ne afapcc n/\\z±A4Afy y 

Fig. 2. Fragment of Hymn of the Kouretes. 

For what precise occasion our Hymn was written we shall 
probably never know, but the fact that it was found near a temple 
of Diktaean Zeus in a place remote from Dikte, the significant 
fact too of the double copy, show clearly that the Hymn is 
essentially a revival, and that we may expect to find in it fossilised 
ways of thinking. This will emerge more clearly in the sequel. 
We must first consider the general structure and character of the 
Hymn. The text 1 is as follows. 

1 As restored by Prof. Gilbert Murray. See B.S.A. xv. 1908—1909, p. 357. 

— — w \s 

— — \J 

— — v^ v^» 

— — ^/ V-* 

i] Hymn of the Kouretes 

Restored Text. 

'T ' 


M.eyicrT€ Koupe, %e»pe pot, 
K.p6vie, Tra<y/cpaT€<; ydvovs, 
5 Sat/xovwv a r ya)fjb€vo<i' 
At/crap e? evcavrov ep- 
ire real ykyaQi pboXira, 

Tdv TOC Kp€KOp.€V TTCLKTlCn ^- — 

p,ei%avT€<; dpi! avKolaiv, -l — 

10 /cal (TTavTes aec8op,€v reov 
dpu(pl fiwpiov evepKi). 

'I(W, K.T.X. 

"E^#a yap ere, TralS" dpftporov, 
d(TTrih\7]<p6poi rpo<pr)e<i\ 
15 irap 'Pea? \a/36vre<; iroha 
fc[povovT€<> direKpvy\rav\ 
'Iw, K.T.\. 


' Io, Kouros most Great, I give thee hail, Kronian, Lord of all 
that is wet and gleaming, thou art come at the head of thy 
Daimones. To Dikte for the Year, Oh, march, and rejoice in the 
dance and song, 

That we make to thee with harps and pipes mingled together, 
and sing as we come to a stand at thy well-fenced altar. 

Io, etc. 

For here the shielded Nurturers took thee, a child immortal, 
from Rhea, and with noise of beating feet hid thee away. 

Io, etc. 

The Hymn of the Kouretes 

Restored Text {continued). 



. raj? KaXas 'Ao(t))9 

Iftj, K.T.X. 

[ T flpai Se /3p]vov KcnrjTos 
teal /3poTo(v)<i Ai/ca Karfj^e 
25 [iravra r ay pi a/j.(pe7r]e £Vo' 
a (piXoXfios Klpijva. 

'Ift), K.T.X. 

*A[/juv dope, zee? aral/uivla, 
Kal 66p einroK e[? Troifjuvia, 
30 zee? Xi]i]a Kapiraiv dope, 

/ce'<? Te\ea[(f)6pov<; o-ifi/3Xov<;.] 

1(0, K.T.X. 

©ope zee'?] TroXtja^ a/itov, 
«e? irovTO(f)6po(v)<; vaas, 
35 #ope zee's [veovs 7roX]eiTa<;, 
dope Kes ®€/xiv K^o.Xnv]. 

\j — \^ — 

\_S \j 

— — \s \J 

v./ — 

Translation (continued). 

. of fair dawn ? 
Io, etc. 

And the Horai began to be fruitful year by year (?) and 
Dike to possess mankind, and all wild living things were held 
about by wealth- loving Peace. 

Io, etc. 

To us also leap for full jars, and leap for fleecy flocks, and leap 
for fields of fruit, and for hives to bring increase. 

Io, etc. 

Leap for our Cities, and leap for our sea-borne ships, and leap 
for our young citizens and for goodly Themis.' 

i] Ritual Structure of the Hymn 9 

Our Hymn is obviously a Hymn of Invocation of a ritual type 
fairly well known 1 , though the instances extant are unfortunately 
rare. It opens with a refrain in ordinary lyric (di-iambic) 2 metre 
and this refrain is repeated before each of the (di-trochaic) stanzas. 
The structure of the Hymn is of importance and should be clearly 
realised. It falls into three parts. 

First we have in the refrain the actual invocation ; the god 
is addressed by his various titles and instructed how, where and 
when to come — he is invoked as ' Kouros most Great,' as 
' Kronian 3 ,' as ' Lord of all that is wet and gleaming 4 ' — it is 

1 Our earliest instance is the invocation of the Bull-god by the women of Elis; 
the Delphic Paean to Dithyrambos presents a later and closer analogy. See p. 205 
and also my Prolegomena, pp. 438 and 417. 

2 I call the metre of the refrain iambic because this seems simplest. But of 
course the difference between iambics and trochees is often only nominal. 
Wilamowitz considers it more consonant with the rest of the hymn to scan 
trochaicaily : 

i-ib, fiiyicrre Kovpe, — ■ — •" — ~ 

Xaip^ Moi, Kpoveie, (sic lapis) - 

Traynpares ydvos, fitfiatces — — 

dai/xovuv aytofjievos, — 

Aurae [e's] eviavrbv 'ipire ~-- — — — •" 

ko.1 yiyaOt /xoXirq., - 

This involves treating t- w as = a cretic, keeping the very questionable form Kpoveie 
(Kpovelov = temple of Kronos in Pap. Grenf. i. 11 is of course different): and 
deleting ^s before eviavrbv. Otherwise it has great advantages. (G.M.) 

3 The order of the words is, I think, conclusive against taking neyiere Kovpe 
Kpbvie together, 'greatest Kronian youth,' 'greatest son of Kronos.' (G.M.) 

4 Both reading and translation are doubtful. Wilamowitz and Mr A. B. Cook 
independently suggest ydvos. The stone has ydvovs three times, which is strong 
evidence of what the stone-cutter meant to write, and is not really weakened by 
the fact that in one case the Y is crowded in between the O and £, as if it had 
been omitted and then inserted; irayKpares ydvos, 'Almighty Gleam' or 'Kadiance,' 
would be simple and good : but irayKpares 7deoi/s seems to be quite good Greek for 
'Lord of all ydvos. ' Any compound of -KpaTrjs would take the genitive, like 
eyKparrjs, aKpar-qs. Cf. the gen. with wafj.pL7]Twp, iravainos, wdvdoKos. 

But what is the meaning of ydvos? The Etymologicum Magnum has a gloss: 
ydvos: v5o)p x°-Pt J - a Q^s XLttos aiyq XevKorvs Xafxirvduv . i ydvos: water joy light 
grease gleam candor fulgor.' (I am reduced to Latin for the last two equivalents.) 
It starts with ' water ' and it ends with ' light ' or ' gleam.' I translate ' wet and 

It has been suggested by Mr Cook that perhaps the Kouros is only Lord of the 
Bright Sky, like a Sun God, and that ydvos is hoc sublime candens, The Aether. 
Now it is quite true that 7^05 never means simply water, without any ' gleam,' 
while instances can easily be found in which it means only ' gleam ' or ' glory ' 
with no sense of wetness, e.g. Aesch. Ag. 579 \d<pvpa — 56fj.ots eirao-ad'kevo-av apxatov 
ydvos. If the context required it we could certainly leave out the wetness. But 
(1) the wetness is normally present: it is Kptjvahv ydvos, 'Aauirov ydvos, fiorpvos 
or dp.Tri\ov ydvos, |ou^^s /xeXicrarjs ydvos, ydvos 'Hpidavolo and the like ; and (2) the 
context here seems to me not to reject but rather to welcome the connotation 
of moisture. It is not mere sunlight that the Kouros brings ; it is fruitful Spring 
as a whole, with dew and showers and young sap as well as sunshine. Fdvos in its 
ordinary sense exactly hits off the required meaning; see pp. 173 — 175. (G.M.) 

10 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

in these capacities he is wanted and expected. He is further 
bidden to come at the head of his Daimones, he is to come to 
Dikte and for the year, he is to come marching and rejoicing. So 
far for the god. 

Next by an easy transition we have a statement of the ritual 
performed. The god is adjured to rejoice in the dance and song 
which the worshippers make to him ' with harps and pipes mingled 
together, and which they sing as they come to a stand at his 
well-fenced altar.' We have clearly a ritual dance accompanying 
a song. The reason, or rather the occasion, of this dance and song 
is next stated. We have in fact what would usually be called an 
' aetiological ' myth. The worshippers dance round the altar of 
the Kouros because ' here the shielded Nurturers took the Kouros, 
an immortal child from Rhea, and with noise of beating feet hid 
him away/ 

Xext follows a lamentable gap. When the text re-emerges 
we are midway in the third factor, the statement of the benefits 
which resulted from the events recounted in the myth, benefits 
which clearly it is expected will be renewed in the annual restate- 
ment and ritual re-enactment of this myth. The coming Seasons 
are to be fruitful, Dike is to possess mankind, the Kouros by 
leaping in conjunction with his worshippers is to bring fertility 
for flocks and fields, prosperity to cities and sea-borne ships, and 
young citizens. 

The full gist of the Hymn will not appear till all three factors 
have been examined in detail, but already, at the first superficial 
glance, we note certain characteristics of a Hymn of Invocation 
that may help to its understanding. The god invoked is not 
present, not there i n a temple ready waiting to be worshipped ; 
He is bidden to come, and apparently hi s coming, and a s _we sha ll 
lafcer~see his very existence, depends oil the ritual that invokes 
hjpi- Moreover Lhy \Tords addressed to him are not, as we should 
expect and find in the ordinary worship addressed to an Olympian, 
a prayer, but an injunction, a command, 'come,' 'leap.' Strangest 
of all, the god it would seem performs the same ritual as his 
worshippers, an d it is by performing that ritual that he is able to ~ 
confer his blessings . He leaps when his attendant worshippers 
leap and the land is fertile. All this as will later appear lands 
us in a region rather of magic than religion. 

i] The Invocation 11 

It will now be necessary to examine in detail the three 1 factors 
of the Hymn — the introductory refrain, the aetiological 2 myth, and 
what for convenience we may call ' the resultant blessings.' The 
gist of the ritual will be found in the second factor, the aetiological 
myth, but we begin with the first. 

1. The Invocation. 

Meytare Kovpe, x a 'P 6 ' M 04 ) 

The opening words are enough to startle the seven mytho- 
logical sleepers. From the circumstances of the finding of the 
Hymn in the temple of Diktaean Zeus and from the title Kronian, 
it is clear that Zeus 3 the Father of gods and men, is addressed 
as ' Kouros most Great,' greatest of grown-up youths. To our 
unaccustomed ears the title sounds strange and barely reverent. 
' Father,' still more ' Mother,' and even ' Babe ' are to us holy 
words, but a full-grown youth has to us no connotation of 
sanctity. Moreover the words Full-grown Youth go ill with 
' Kronian,' a title of reverend association. How these two 
dissonant titles come to be unequally yoked together will appear 
in the sequel. 

When the Hymn was first discovered, the opening words as was 
natural at once arrested attention, but — so crusted and stiffened 
is the mind with traditional thinking — the full significance of 
the title could not at first be seen. Zeus the Father was firmly 
rooted in our minds, so it was natural at first to think, here we 
have the young Zeus, Z eus the Divine Son. The Christian 
religion has accustomed us to a god as Son. But it should at 
once be noted, Kouros is not ino<?, not son, nor is it even irais, 
child. Kouros connotes 4 no relationship to a parent, it is simply 

1 The first two factors only will be examined at this point; the third factor, the 
' resultant blessings and their relation to Themis,' is reserved for chapter x. 

2 I use the current term 'aetiological' provisionally, for convenience. Its 
inadequacy will be shown later, p. 329. 

3 It should, however, be definitely noted at the outset, for the fact is of cardinal 
importance, that nowhere, neither in the refrain nor in the body of the poem, does 
the actual name Zeus appear. 

4 The word Kovpos is of course often used as the rough equivalent of wais or w6s, 
cf. Eur. El. 463 t£ Mcuas aypoTrjpi Kotipy, but I suspect that in this and similar 
passages it covers an earlier and different relation. 

12 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

young man just come to maturity. Hence it is that Kouros with 
a capital is in English practically untranslatable save by peri- 
phrasis. ' Greatest of Youths ' is intolerably clumsy, ' Prince of 
Youths,' which perhaps might serve, introduces an alien association. 
Nothing is more stimulating to enquiry than an untranslatable 
word, since underlying it we may hope to find something new, 
unknown. We have no sacred Kouros now, we have got to 
rediscover what caused the sanctity of the Kouros 1 . We shall find 
it in the aetiological myth, but before we examine this, another 
statement in the Invocation yet remains and one scarcely less 

The Kouros, the young Zeus, is hailed as coming ' a t the head 
o f his daimones ' (Saifiovfov aycofievos). This brings us to a 
curious and, for our investigation, cardinal point. Nowhere save 
in this Hymn do we hear of Zeus with attendant daimones 2 . He 
stands always alone, aloof, approached with awe, utterly delimited 
from his worshippers. One god only, Dionysos, and he but a 
half-bred Olympian, is attended by daimones. We can scarcely 
picture Dionysos without his attendant thiasos, be they holy 
women, Maenads, be they the revel rout of Satyrs. We think of 
this thiasos of daimones as attendants, inferior persons, pale 
reflections, emanations as it were from the god himself. It seems 
appropriate that he should be surrounded by attendants {irpoTro- 
\ot): superior persons, high officials, always are. If this be all, how 
strange, how even unseemly is it that Zeus, the supreme god, 
Father of Gods and Men, should have no thiasos, no escort. The 
Hymn brings us face to face with the fact that Zeus once had a 
thiasos, once when he was a young man, a Kouros. When he 
grew up to be the Father, it seems, he lost his thiasos and has 
gone about unattended ever since. If we can once seize the 
meaning of this thiasos and its relation to the god we shall have 
gone far to understand the making of Greek theology. 

1 Some survivals of initiation-rites and of the Kouros idea will be considered in 
chapters ix. and x. 

2 Mr Cook kindly reminds me that this rule has one singular and beautiful 
exception. In the Phaedrus of Plato (246 e) we read 6 /xiv drj fieyas r)ye/j.wi> ev ovpav<i 
Zeus... TTpQros TropeveTai...Tt£ 5' eVerctt crrpaTia OeGiv re nal daifxovwf . . .deiov x°P°v — The 
passage reads almost like a reminiscence of a ritual-procession similar to that headed 
by the greatest Kouros (daifidvuv aydb/xevos). 

i] The Aetiological Myth 13 

2. The Aetiological Myth. 

The presence of the Kouros is confidently claimed and with it 
all the blessings to flocks and herds that attend his coming. The 
god will come, is come, to Dikte for the year and the produce of 
the year ; and the reason is clearly stated. The worshippers ' come 
to a stand ' at the altar and there recite and probably enact the 

For here the shielded Nnrturers took thee, a child immortal, 
and with noise of beating feet hid thee away. 

The text at this point is unfortunately defective 1 , but enough 
remains to make it clear, beyond the possibility of doubt, that the 
story told is the familiar myth of the birth of Zeus and his nurture 
by the Kouretes 2 . The myth is obviously ' aetiological.' The 
worshippers of the Kouros say they invoke the Kouros because of 
the myth (evda yap). We may of course safely invert the order 
of things, the myth arose out of or rather together with the ritual, 
not the ritual out of the myth. 

The myth o£-the birth of Zeus and its ritual enactment is 
recounted by^StrabojP as follows. After mentioning the mysteries 
of Demeter andLJionysos, he says, ' These things in general and 
the sacred ceremonies of ^eus in particular, are pprfn]-rnpH with 
or gias tic rites and with assi stance of attendants (irpoiroXoi) similar 
to the Satyrs that attend Dionysos. These attendants they call 
Kouretes; they are certain young men who perform armed move- 
ments accompanied by dancing. They allege as their reason the 
myth about the birth of Zeus, in which l^ronos is introduced with 
hi s hab i t of swallowing his children imme diately after birffi Tand 
Rhea trying to conceal her birth-p angs and to get the new-born 
child out ot the way and doing her utmost to save it. With a 
view to this she enlists the help of the Kouretes. They surround 
the goddess and with drums and with the din of other instruments 

1 Prof. Murray writes, op. cit. p. 359 " ' L. 14 acrirt,§[-r)(p6poi KovprjTes] Bosanquet.' 

The sense seems certain but the metrical license for - - - * is doubtful 

and does not occur elsewhere in the hymn. Hence I prefer rpocprjes: &<rirl5[e<r<7t | 
Koij ~ pijres] however would correspond neatly witb fxei^avres a/x | ay — Xoicnv." 

2 In the similar ritual at Ephesus as Prof. Murray points out (op. cit. p. 359) 
the Kouretes in like fashion ' come to a stand ' round the altar. See Strabo, 
p. 640, init. opos, oirov ffTavras <paal tovs KoOpr/ras ry \l/6<pu t&v 6ir\wv iKirkri^ai — For 
particulars of this ritual see p. 246. 

3 x. 468 ...wpo<jT7)oafxevoi fivdov rbv irepl ttjs tov Aids yevtaews, ev tp top p.kv Kpovov 
eiff&yovcriv eidicrp.&ov KaTcnriveiv ra t£kvo. k.t.X. 

14 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

try to strike terror into Kronos and to escape notice whilst trying 
to filch away the child. The child is then given over to them to 
be reared with the same care by which it was rescued.' 

A little earlier in his discussion of the functions of the Kouretes 
he says 1 they are ' daimones or attendants {irpoirokoL} on the gods, 
similar to Satyroi, Seilenoi, Bacchoi and Tityroi, and this is 
expressly stated by those who hand down the tradition of Cretan 
and Phrygian ceremonies, these being involved with certain sacred 
rites, some of them mystical, others relating to the child-nurture 
of Zeus and the qjgiasticrites of the Mother o f the God s in 
ffhrygia an d in the region about the" Trojan Ida.' 

Strabo thought that the child reared and protected by the 

\y Kouretes was Zeus, but our ritual Hymn knows him only as 

Kouros. It need not therefore surprise us that the Kouros 

appears elsewhere with other names. He is sometimes Dionysos, 

sometimes Zagreus. 

The mysteries of Dionysos (Zagreus) are, says Clement of 
Alexandria, ' utterly inhuman.' He then proceeds to recount 
them. Utterly inhuman they are as Clement understood or 
rather utterly misunderstood them : very human indeed, social and 
civilising through and through if my interpretation be correct, so 
human and social that a very considerable portion of humanity 
thinks it well to practise analogous rites to-day. 

Let Clement 2 tell his story : 

' The mysteries of Dionysos are wholly inhuman, for while he 

was still a child and the Kouretes were dancing round him their 

armed dance the Titans came stealthily upon him and lured him 

with childish toys and tore him limb from limb while he was yet 

a babe. Thus does the Thracian Orpheus, the poet of the Rite 


The cones, the rhonibos and the limb-bending toys, 
And the fair gold apples of the Hesperides.' 

1 x. 466 ...toiovtovs yap rivas daip-ovas ?) wpoTroXovs 8eQv tovs Kovprjras <pa<riv oi 
Trapa56vres to. KprjTiKa kclI to. Qpvyia, iepovpyiais tictiv e/xireTrXey/xeva reus fiev fivuTiKah 
reus 5' &\\at.s irepl re ttjv tov Aios TraiSorpocpLav ttjv iv KpyjTri Kai tovs ttjs (ir]Tpbs tQiv 
dewv opyiaap-ovs ev ttj <ppvyia Kai rofc wepl tt)v"\5i)v ri]i> TpwLKr]v tottois. 

- Abel, Orphica, 196 to. yap Aiovvaov fivaT-qpia reXeov aTravOt-'Wira, 8v elcriri waWa 
ovra, ivoTrXu) niprj&et. irepLXopevbvToiv Yiovp-qrwv, 86\u) 5e virodvvTUiv, aTraTr/cravTes 
wai5apiw5ecriv ddvpfxaaiv, ovtol 8r) oi Tiraves Sieairacrav, ?ri vqiriaxov ovra, ws 6 rrjs 
reXerTjs TrotfjTrjS 'Opcpevs <j>r)criv 6 QpaKios. 

ku>vos Kai popLf3os Kai waiyvta KapLnecriy via 

/j.TJ\d re xpv°~ ea ica^a Trap' UJo~irepi5wv Xiyvcpdovuiv. 

i] The Mysteries of Zagreus 15 

Other authorities add other details. The wicked Titans who 
stole the child away were painted over with white clay, gypsum 1 
(tltcivos;). Moreover, and this is of cardinal importance, there is 
a sequel to the story. After the child has been made away with 
(d(f)avLcr/jL6<i), swallowed by his father (reicvcHpayia) or torn to 
pieces (8iaa7rapayfi6<;) > he comes back to life again : there is a 
coming to life again (avafiiwais;), a resurrection {iraXiyyevecrlay, 
how and when we are not told. Some said 3 the child's heart was 
saved and then put back into a figure made of gypsum. In some 
versions 4 the wicked giants or white-clay-men are struck 5 with 
lightning by Zeus and burnt to ashes and from these ashes sprang 
the human race. 

The cardinal elements of the story whether told of the infant 
Zeus, Dionysos, Zagreus or the Kouros are : 

(1) A child is taken from his mother and carefully tended by 
men called Kouretes. To guard him they dance over him an 
armed dance (iraiSorpocpia). 

(2) The child is hidden, made away with, killed, dismembered 
by men sometimes called Titans, ' white-clay-men ' (cKpaviaftos, 

(3) The child reappears, is brought to life again. Sometimes 
this is effected by the white-clay-men, sometimes the child 
reappears as a white-clay-man himself, his heart being put into 
a figure of gypsum {avafiiwaLs, TraXtyyevecria). 

Of these elements only the first, the Child-Nurture, appears in 
the Hymn. This need not surprise us. Literature, even hieratic 
literature, tends to expurgate savage material, the death and 

1 Harpocrat. s.v. airo[ia.TTWv : cis &pa ol TiraVes tov Aidvvcrov i\vp.r)vavro yv\J/u) 

2 Plut. De Is. et Os. xxxv. and De Ei ap. Delpli. ix. Ai6w<rov de kclI Zaypia Kal 
NuktAioc Kal 'IcrodalTrjv avrdv ovofid^ovcri, /ecu (pdopds tipcls kclI d^>avia/j.ovs, Kal rds 
avapiwaeis /cat iraXiyyeveaias, oiKeia rah yuera/3oXats aiuiy/xara Ktxi /xudev/Mara 

3 Firmicus Mat. De Err. Prof. Relig. 6 ...imaginem eius ex gypso plastico opere 
perfecit et cor pueri, ex quo facinus fuerat sorore defereute detectum, in ea parte 
plastae conlocat, qua pectoris f iterant lineamenta formata. Possibly the imago 
may have been like the iralyvia KapLirecriyvia and similar in character to the jointed 
terracotta dolls with movable arms and legs, found in Greek tombs. 

4 The sources for all these details are collected in Abel : s Orphica, pp. 224 ff. and 
in Lobeck's Aglaophamus, pp. 553 ff. The Zagreus story is told in minute detail in 
the Dionysiaka of Nonnus, vi. 155 ff. 

5 The thunder- element in the story and the myth of the swallowing of the 
thunder-stone by Kronos will be discussed in chapter in. 

16 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

resurrection ritual was well enough as a mystery, but in the third 
century A.D. not for publication even in a ritual Hymn. 

In the study of Greek religion it is all important that the 
clear distinction should be realized between the comparatively 
permane nt element nfthr ritunil nnd ijir-hiftinr; manifold 
charact er of the myth"! In the case before us we have a uniform 
ritual, the elements ot ; which we have disentangled — the armed 
dance over the child, the mimic death and rebirth ; but the myth 
shifts ; it is told variously of Zagreus, Dionysos, Zeus, and there is 
every variety of detail as to how the child is mimetically killed 
and how the resurrection is effected. To understand the religious 
intent of the whole complex it is all important to seize on the 
permanent ritual factors. 

This does not, however, imply, as is sometimes supposed, 
that ritual is prior to myth ; they probably arose together. 
Ritual is the utterance of an emotion, a thing felt, in action, myth 
in words or thoughts. They arise pari passu. The myth is not 
at first aetiological, it does not arise to give a reason; it is repre- 
sentative, another form of utterance, of expression. When the 
emotion that started the ritual has died down and the ritual 
though hallowed by tradition seems unmeaning, a reason is sought 
in the myth and it is regarded as aetiological 1 . 

We have now to ask what is the meaning of this extraordinary 
ritual. Why is a child or young man subjected to mimic rites of 
death and resurrection ? 

The orthodox explanation is that the child is a sort of vege- 
tation spirit or corn-baby, torn to pieces in winter, revived in 
spring. I do not deny that in the myth there is an element of 
Corn- or rather Year-baby, but the explanation cannot be regarded 
as satisfactory, as it fails to explain the Kouretes, and the Titans 
disguised with white clay. 

I offer a simpler and I think more complete explanation. 
Every single element, however seemingly preposterous, in both the 
ritual and myth of Zagreus can be explained I believe by the 
a nalogy of primitive rites of tribal init iation. 

1 This point will become clearer when (in chapter n.) the psychology of the 
bp&lievov, the ritual act, is examined. The general relation of myth to ritual is 
reserved for chapter viii. 

i] The Titanes as Initiators 17 

This I had long suspected because of the white-clay-men. 
These I have already fully discussed elsewhere 1 and I need now 
only briefly resume what is necessary for the immediate argument. 
The word Titanes (white-clay-men) c omes of course from Tirdvos, 
w hite earth or p lay gypsHJZL. ^he Titanes, the white-clay-men, 
were later, regardless of quantity, mythologized into Titanes, 
Titans, giants. Harpocration 2 , explaining the word diro/jbaTrcov, 
says that the Titans, when they tore Dionysos to pieces, were 
covered with a coat of gypsum in order that they might not be 
recognized. Later, people when they were initiated went on 
doing the same thing and for the same reason that most people 
do most things nowadays, because 'it was the thing to do.' 
Nonnus 3 also says that the Titans were ' whitened with mystic 

A coat of white paint was a means of making yourself up as a 
bogev or ghost : by disguising your real character as a common 
human man you reinforced your normal personality. A coat of 
white or sometimes black paint is the frequent disguise of savages 
to-day when in ceremonies of initiation for the edification of their 
juniors they counterfeit their tribal ancestors. 

The Titans then, the white-clay-men, are real men dressed up 
as bogies to perform initiation rites. It is only later when t heir 
meaning isjbrgotten that they are ex- plained as Titanes mytm> 
logical giants. Thus much was clear to me years ago : i.e. that 
under the myth of Zagreus lay some form of initiation rite. What 
I then did not see, though my blindness seems to me now almost 
incredible, was the significance of the child and the toys 4 and 
above all why the child was first killed and then brought back 
to- life. 

Again light came to me unexpectedly from a paper kindly sent 

1 Prolegomena, p. 492. 

2 eKp.ip.oijp.evot. ra pvdo\oyovpeva irap' evicts, ilis tipa oi Tiraves rbv Aiovvcrov 
eXvp-qvavro yvipiii KarairXao-dpevoi eirl ru) pri yvdiptfxoi yevtaOai. tovto pev ovv to 
ZOvos €K\iweiv, ttt]\u) de varepov KaTaTrXaTreadai vop.ip.ov x^P 1 "- 

3 Nonn. Dionys. xxvu. 228 

eXevKaivovTO de yvij/ip 

4 A child's ' toys ' in antiquity were apt to be much more than mere playthings.. 
They were charms inductive of good, prophylactic against evil, influences. Thus 
crepundia, from crepere 'to rattle,' served to amuse the child but also to protect 
him. For this whole subject see E. Wiinsch, Charm* and Amulets, in Hastings' 
Encyclopaedia of Keligion and Ethics. 

H. 2 

18 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

to me by Dr Frazer 1 containing an account of certain initiation 
ceremonies among the. Wiradthuri tribe of New South Wales. 
This account must be briefly resumed : \., 

' At a certain stage in the initiation ceremonies of these tribes 
the women and children huddled together and were securely 
covered up with blankets and bushes. Then a number of men 
came from the sacred ground where the initiation ceremonies were 
performed. Some of them swung bull-roarers, and some of them 
took up lighted sticks from a fire, and threw them over the women 
and children " to make them believe that dhuramoolan had tried 
to burn them." At a later period of the ceremonies the boys were, 
similarly covered up with blankets, a large fire was kindled near 
them, and when the roaring of the wood and the crackling of the 
flames became audible, several old men began to swing bull- 
roarers, and the lads were told that Dhuramoolan was about to 
burn them. These performances were explained by a legend that 
Dhuramoolan, a powerful being, whose voice sounded like the 
rumbling of distant thunder, had been charged by a still more 
powerful being called Baiamai, with the duty of taking the boys 
away into the bush and instructing them in all the laws, traditions, 
and customs of the community. So Dhuramoolan pretended that 
he always killed the boys, cut them up, and burnt them to ashes, 
after which he moulded the ashes into human shape, and restored 
them to life as new beings.' 

With the Cretan ritual in our minds it is clear that the 
Wiradthuri rites present more than an analogy ; mutato nomine 
the account might have been written of Zagreus. 

I have chosen the account of the Wiradthuri out of countless 
other instances, because in it we have the definite statement that 
the boys were burnt to ashes and Zagreus-like remodelled again in 
human shape. But everywhere, in Africa, in America, in Australia, 
in the South Pacific Islands, we come upon what is practically the 
same sequence of ceremonies. When a b oy is in itia ted, that is 
when he jp assg s from childh oo d to adolescence, thi a_j3a&tamime, 
this terrifying (eWX/^i?), this pretended killing of the child, this 

1 On some Ceremonies of the Central Australian Tribes, Melbourne, 1901. 
Dr Frazer's authority is E. H. Matthews, The Burbung of the Wiradtluiri Tribes, 
Journal of Anthropological Institute, xxv. (1896), pp. 297 f., 308, 311. 

i] Savage Initiations 19 

minting him with clay and bringing him back to life again as 
a^ T ou*ng"'~ma'n"7is everywhere enacted Til Hthe boy ha s died and 
came~~Et) life tCgai n, till he has utterly 'put away childish things 7 * 
he can not he a full member of the tribe he may not know the 
tribal secrets or dance the tribal dances, he may not handle 
bull-roarers, he cannot perform any of the functions of the full- 
grown man. 

At and through his initiation the boy is brought into close 
^ communion with his tribal ancestors : he becomes socialized, part 
of the body politic. Hfc^ ceforth he belongs to something bigge r, 
more potent, more lasting, than his own individual existence : he 
is part oi the stream of the totemic life, one with the g enerations 
b efore and yet to p.ome. - 

So vital, so crucial is the change that the savage exhausts his 
imagination and his ingenuity in his emphasis of death and new 
birth. It is not enough to be killed, you must be torn to pieces 
or burnt to ashes. Above all you must utterly forget your past 
life. The precautions taken to secure this completeness of death 
and resurrection and consequent oblivion are sometimes disgusting 
enough. Murder is carefully counterfeited with the help of 
bladders of blood and the like. Sometimes the details are / 
amusing : not only does the boy forget his own name that in this 
his social baptism he may receive a new one, but he does not 
know his own mother, he has forgotten how to speak and can only 
stammer, he cannot even swallow, he has to be artificially fed. 
He cannot come in straight at the door but must stumble in 
backwards. If he forgets and stupidly recognizes his mother or 
eats his food like a Christian he is taken back and ' huskinawed ' 
again 1 . All this is of course much more than mere pretence, it is 
a method of powerful suggestion. 

The ritual, then, commemorated and perhaps in part enacted in 
our Hymn is the ritual of tribal Initiation. The Kouretes are 
Young Men who have been initiated themselves and will initiate 
others, will instruct them in tribal duties and tribal dances, will 

1 For details as to Death and Resurrection elements in Initiation Ceremonies see 
H. Schurtz, Altersklassen und Mannerbiinde, 1902 ; H. Webster, Primitive Secret 
Societies, 1908 ; H. Hubert and M. Mauss, MSlanges d'Histoire des Religi&ka, 1909, 
pp. 144 ff. ; A. van Gennep, Les Rites de Passage, 1909, pp. 93 ff. ; L. Levy-Bruhl, 
Les fonctions mentales dans les Societes Inu'rieitres, 1910, pp. 409 ff. ; and, especially, 
Dr J. G. Frazer, Golden Bough'-, in. pp. 423 ft', and Totemism and Exogamy, iv. p. 228. 


20 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

steal them away from their mothers, conceal them, make away 
with them by some pretended death and finally bring them back 
as new-born, grown youths, full members of their tribe. The word 
Koures is simply a specialized derivative of Kouros, as <yvixvrj<; of 
yvfivos, and perhaps 70779 of 7009. It is, like Kouros, a word 
impossible to translate, because we have lost the social condition 
expressed. Young Men (Koaroi) we know, but Initiated Young 
Men {Kouretes) are gone for ever. 

The Kouretes are young men full-grown, but it will have been 
already noted that in the Hymn we have a child, and in the 
rs Zagreus myth a babe 1 . This brings us to an important point. It 
is not only the passage from childhood to adolescence that among 
savages is marked by rites of initiation, of death and resurrection. 
As Monsieur van Gennep 2 has well shown in his suggestive book, 
the ceremo pies that aroompany each _ suc^essive stage of life, 
cerem onies, i.e. of bi rt h, of marriage, of ordination as a medic iner 
man, and finally of death, are, no less than the ceremon ies of 
irfrylesnenee, one an d all Rites de Passaf/eTeeremollies" 01 transition^ 


of going out from the old and going in~To the~new 3 . 

Myths, then, which embody the hiding, slaying and bringing to 
life again of a child or young man, may reflect almost any form of 
initiation rite. It is not always possible to distinguish very clearly. 
Later 4 we shall see that the Kouretes had to do with a rite of the 
initiation of a sort of medicine-man, a rite nearer akin to our 
Ordination than to either Baptism or Confirmation. When the 
Greeks lost touch with the tribal customs which involved the rite 
of adolescence, we may suspect that they invented or at least 
emphasized Infant-Initiation. Later theologians entirely forgot 
the Kouros, and even the infant Zeus presented somewhat of a 
difficulty if not a scandal. A babe is rather the attribute of the 

1 Thus Nonnus, Dionysiaka, vi. 179 

dWore TTOiKL\6fj.op(pov er)i> fipecpos, dWore Kovpu) 
eiKe\os oiarp-rjdivTi., 
whereas Lucretius, n. 635 

Dictaeos referunt Curetas... 
Cum pueri circum puerum. 
- Les Rites de Passage, Paris, 1909. 

3 For the psychology of initiation lites see Mr Marett's very interesting analysis 
in The Birth of Humility, Inaugural Lecture before the University of Oxford, 1910. 

4 Chapter in. 

i] The Second Birth 21 

divine Mother than the divine Father, and in patriarchal times, 
once the cult of the Mother was overshadowed, the infant Zeus 
needed apology. He was consigned to ' local legend ' and was 
held to be due to ' contaminatio with the child Dionysos.' 

A clear and striking instance of a Second Birth in early child- 
hood is reported by Mr and Mrs Routledge J as practised among 
the Akikuyu of British East Africa. It is known as ' To be Born 
Again ' or ' To be Born of a Goat,' and takes place when the boy is 
about ten years old or even younger if the father can afford the 
necessary goat for sacrifice. The goat is killed, a piece of skin 
cut in a circle and passed over one shoulder of the candidate and 
under the other arm. No men are allowed inside the hut, but 
women are present. The mother sits on a hide on the floor with 
the boy between her knees, the goat's gut is passed round the 
woman and brought in front of the boy. The woman groans as in 
labour, another woman cuts the gut, and the boy imitates the 
cry of a new-born infant, the women present all applaud and 
afterwards the assistant and the mother wash the boy. ThaJ/ 
night the boy sleeps in the same hut as the mother. On the 
second day the boy stays with his mother in the homestead. On 
the third day food is brought, and the relatives and friends come 
to a feast in the evening, but no native beer is drunk. After all 
is over the hut is swept out. The boy again sleeps in the mother's 
hut, and that night the father sleeps in the hut also.' 

The Akikuyu rite presents one feature of great interest. The 
boy is ' Born of a Goat.' It is nowhere stated that he is called 
a Goat, but the child of a goat must surely in some sense have 
been regarded as a Kid. We are irresistibly reminded of the 
Kid-Dionysos (Eriphios)' 2 , of the Horned Child 3 and of the Baby 
Minotaur. The notion lingers on in the beautiful thought that 
at Baptism a child becomes one of the lambs of Christ the Lamb 
of God. At present among the Akikuyu the boy who is ' Born 

1 With a Prehistoric Race, 1910, p. 151. Neither Mr nor Mrs Routledge could 
obtain permission actually to witness the rite. The custom is one of the oldest 
among the Akikuyu customs and universal among them. There is great reluctance 
to talk of the ceremony, and the knowledge of it was only obtained from natives 
who had broken with their own traditions and come under the influence of 
Christianity. Till a boy has been born again he cannot assise at the burial rites 
of his father. He is not part of the clan. 

2 Hesych. s.v. s See p. 130. 

22 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

of a Goat ' is regarded as fit to tend goats, but behind a ceremony 
so emphatic and so expensive must, it would seem, lie some 
more serious significance 1 . 

The Akikuyu rite contains no mimic death. Death indeed 
seems scarcely an integral part of initiation, it is only a prepara- 
tion for, an emphasis of, the new Life 2 . But an element like this 
of a striking and dramatic nature tends in myth sometimes to 
swamp the really integral factor. We hear more for example of 
the sufferings (irddr]) of Dionysos than of his l'ebirth ; the death 
of the child in such myths as those of-^Atreus and Thyestes, 
Demeter and Demophon 3 obscures the element of Resurrection. 
But there can be little doubt that originally the New Birth and 
Resurrection lay behind. Lucian 4 in his account of the strange 
solecisms committed by dancers says that he remembers how a 
man who was supposed to be ' dancing the Birth of Zeus and the 
Child-Eating of Kronos actually danced by mistake the calamities 
of Thyestes, deceived by their similarity.' The mistake is at least 
highly suggestive ; the ritual dance of the two myths must have 
been almost identical. 

Anthropologists have been sometimes blamed 5 , and perhaps 
with justice, for the fiendish glee with which, as though they were 
Christian Fathers, they seize on barbarous survivals in Greek 
religion or literature. Zagreus dismembered by the Titans, the 
cannibal feasts of Thyestes and Lycaon, Demeter burning 
Demophon — these and a host of other stories are ' survivals of 
human sacrifice 6 .' It is only a little anthropology that is a 
dangerous thing. Men will kill and eat each other and especially 
their enemies for many and diverse reasons, but actual Human 
Gift-Sacrifice, and especially child-sacrifice, is rare among savages. 
Many a cannibal is a kind and good father ; adorned with a 

1 For theriomorphs and the inclusion of the animal in the tribe see p. 125 ff. 

2 The Orphic Hymn, xxxvm. 14, misunderstanding inverts the sequence. The 
Kouretes are ...rpofpees re nai al'T oXerr/pes. 

3 Mr W. R. Halliday has shown clearly that the story of Demeter passing 
Demophon through the fire is the survival of an infant initiation-rite. See p. 34, 
note 2. 

4 de Salt. SO ras yap yovas 6pxoi'/j.ev6s ris ko.1 ttjv tov Kpdvov T€Kvo<payiav irapwpx^To 
Kai Tas OveuTOv ffv/xtpopas tuj u/xoiip wapr]yp.€Vos. 

5 See Prof. Murray, Olympian Houses in Albany Review, 1907, p. 205. 

6 A like explanation is often given of the rites of the Lupercalia, but see 
Warde-Fowler, Roman Festivals, p. 316 ' The youths were never actually killed but 
were the figures in a kind of acted parable.' 


The Kouretes as Guardians 


necklace of skulls he will sit playing with the child on his knee. 
But, rare though Human Sacrifice is, and rarer still its survivals, 
the mock slaying of a boy in initiation rites is so common as to be / 
almost universal, and in a large number of instances it is the 
memory of this mock slaying, misunderstood, that survives. By 
way of placation, of palinode, we offer to the humanist the mysteries 
of Zagreus made harmless, humanized by anthropology. Dhura- 
moolan 'pretended that he killed the boys.' 

Primarily then the Kouretes are, in their capacity of Initiators. 

abo 1 is 

Ohi lrl-Nurtnrers, Guardia ns (iiathorpoipoi^ cfrfXa/ce?). Strab 

on this point emphatic! ^Tn the Cretan discourses,' he says, ' the 

Kouretes are called the nurses and guardians of Zeus,' and again 2 

Fig. 3. 

in trying to explain the word Kouretes he says, ' they were so 
called either because they were young and boys, or because of 
their rearing of Zeus.' They earned this title, he adds, through 
being ' as it were Satyrs attendant on Zeus....' In the light of this 
initiation nurture the other functions of the Kouretes fall easily 
and naturally into place. 

The Kouretes are armed and orgiastic dancers (6 px>l o~rrjpe<i 
d(nri8r)<f>6poi). Strabo 3 says they are certain youths who execute 

1 x. 472 iv dt toTs \6yois ol Koi»p??res Atos rpo<peh \eyovTai Kal (puXatces. 

2 x. 468 u(t9' ol Kovprjres tjtol dta to vioi Kal Kdpoi ovres vwovpyelu rj dia to Kovpo- 
rpocpeiv tov Ala (Xeyercu yap d/JL<pOT^pws) Tai)T7)<; ■q^LibOrjO'av rrj<r irpoa ijyoplas, olovel 

"ZaTVpol TLViS OVT(S TTCpi TOV Ala. 

3 op. cit. 

24 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

m „e- S in armour; it is especially as inspired dancers that 
they fulfil their function as ministers in sacred rites. lhey 
Sire terror by armed dances accompanied i by and hubbub 
of timbrels and clashing arms and also by the sound o the flute 
and shouting.' Nursing young children or even dnllmg young 
boys are function* that seem to us scarcely congruous with the 
daneino- of armed dances. On the terracotta relief in Fig. 3 we 
see the\ouretes armed with shields and short spears dancing : ove 
the infant Zeus, and if we try to realise the scene «d«M 
to us absurd, calculated rather to scare the child to death than 
to defend him. But the Kouretes as Initiators continue then 
' c ngruous functions. Pantomimic dancing is of the essence of 
each and every mystery function. To disclose the mystery M. as 
Lucian' puts it ' to dance out the mysteries.' Instruction among 
savage peoples is always imparted in more or less mimetic dances . 
It initiation you learn certain dances which confer on you defini 
social status. When a man is too old to dance, he hands over his 
dance to another and a younger, and he then among som tube. 
ceases to exist socially. His funeral when he dies is celeb ated 
with scanty and perfunctory rites; having lost his dance he is 

, a negligible social unit 4 . 

The dances taught to boys at initiation are frequently if not 
always armed dances. These are not necessarily warhke. The 
accoutrement of spear and shield was m part decorative in part a 
pro usion for making the necessary hubbub. What a Koures in 
Lieut days must have looked like may be gathered from F,g. 4 
a photograph taken of the peculiar dance with song (j^Kjr,) of 
the neophytes among the Akikfiyu prior to their initiation a 
men Conspicuous in their dancing gear are the great ceremonial 
dancing shields and the long staves. They are painted in zigzag 
with white paint, and wear tails and skins of monkey and wild 
cat. To be allowed to dance it is essential that a boy be painted 

. im a« i. In,,. *n. <1«0, Tav S «* K I an, nnnertain where «1» reli ef 
now is E. Braun, who publishes it, sajs it passed Horn 

i£opx<>viJ-evov a-yavaKT^cw.... 

\ R t&SA&S '"« etude sur la representation collective de la m0 rt. 
^wWSS WUk a Prehistoric People, 1910, PL cvni. Eepro- 
duced by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Routledge. 


The Kouretes as daimones 


with a particular pattern ' of divine institution, ' he must wear a 
particular dress and carry certain articles 1 .' 

The ancient K^ouxaias were not merely young men ; they were 
ha lf divjx ^y^tmmmes. The Kouros in the Hymn is biHolen "Co 
come at the head of his Daimones (SaifAovcov dyco/jbevos). As 
daimones the Kouretes resembled, Strabo 2 says, Satyrs, Seilenoi, 
Bacchoi, Tityroi. Divine but not quite gods, they are as we shall 

Fig. 4. 

presently see the stuff of which ancient gods are made. Hesiod y , 
and Hesiod only, calls them actually gods. He tells of 

...the worthless idle race of Satyrs 
And the gods, Kouretes, lovers of sport and dancing. 

1 op. cit. p. 156. 

2 x. 466 tome 8e ixaWov r<j? trepl larvpuv xal "ZeiK-qvuv ko.1 Bcu-x^" «at Tirvpuv 

3 Frg. cxxix. 

/cat 76^05 ovTidav&v Harvpwv Kai afxrixa-voepyuiv 
T\.ovprJTes re Qeol, <pi\oTraiy/j.ovfs opxy&TTJpes. 


26 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

In the light of initiation ceremonies we understand why the 
Kouretes and Korybantes though they are real live youths are 
yet regarded as Saifioves, as half divine, as possessed (evdeoi), 
enthusiastic, ecstatic, and why their ceremonies are characterized 
by Strabo 1 as orgiastic. The precise meaning of orgies will 
concern us later ; for the present i t is enoughto note that in mos t 
savage mysteries it i s a main part of the duty of initiators to 
impersonate gods or demons. The initiators dress up as the 
ancestral ghosts of tile IribeTsometimes even wearing the actual 
skulls 2 of their ancestors, and in this disguise dance round the 
catechumens and terrify them half out of their senses. It is only 
when fully initiated that the boys learn that these terrific figures 
are not spirits at all but just their living uncles and cousins 3 . The 
secret is never imparted to women and children. To do so would 
be death. 

As halfiove<i whether wholly or half divine the Kouretes ha ve 
all manner of magical capacities. These capacities are by Strabo 
rather implied than expressly stated and are especially noticeable 
in their Phrygian equivalents, Korybantes. Th e , Korybantes bind 
a nd release men from spells, they induce madness and heal it . 
The chorus asks 4 the love-sick Phaedra 

Is this some Spirit, O child of man? 
Doth Hecat hold thee perchance, or Pan? 
Doth She of the Mountains work her ban, 
Or the dread Corybantes bind thee? 

The Kouretes are also, as all primitive magicians are, seers 
(fidvTeis). When Minos in Crete lost his son Glaukos he sent for 
the Kouretes to discover where the child was hidden 5 . Closely 
akin to this magical aspect is the fact that the y are me tal-workers 6 . 
A mong prim itive people metallurgy is an unca nny craft, and the 
smith is hall medicine mam The metal-working side of these 

x. 465 lis 8e tvttli eiweiv Kal Kara, to w\iov ivdovo-ia<TTi.Kous Tivas Kal BaKX<-Ko6s. 

2 H. Schurtz, Altersklassen und Manner biinde, 1902, p. 38. For the functions 
of ancestral ghosts see chapter 273. 

3 H. Webster, Primitive Secret Societies, pp. 101 and 187. 

4 Eur. Hip. 141 

7? av y' 'ivdeos, w Kotipa, 
€lt eK Ilavos eW' 'E/cdras 
rj>v KopvjiavTwv <poi- 
Tas 7} fxaTpos opeias ; 

5 Apollod. 3. 2. 2. 

6 Soph. ap. Strabo, x. 473 says of the Idaean Daktyls ol aih-qpbv re e^eupov Kal 
(ipydo-avTo Trpwrot Kal a\\a ttoWq. tQiv wpbs tov [iiov xp r \ a ' { -l xu > v - 

i] The Kouretes as Culture-Heroes 27 

figures comes out best in the kindred Daktyls and Telchines. 
A step more and the magicians become Culture-Heroes, inventors QX& 
o f all th e arts of life, house-building, be e-keeping, shield-making > 
g,nd the like 1 . As culture-heroes they attend the Kouros in the 
Hymn. This development of the daimon and the culture-hero will 
be discussed later. 

Just such functions are performed to-day among primitive 
peoples by the Initiated Young Man. If the investigations of 
recent anthropologists 2 are correct, it is not so much about the 
family and the domestic hearth that the beginnings of the arts 
cluster, as about the institution known as the Man's House 3 . 
Here, unencumbered by woman, man practises and develops his 
diverse crafts, makes his weapons, his boats, his sacred images, 
his dancing masks. Even after marriage when he counts as an 
elderly man he returns to the Man's House 4 to keep in touch with 
civilization and the outside world. He is a Culture-Hero in the / 

To resume the results of our enquiry. 

The worshippers in the Hymn invoke a Kouros who is obviously 
but a reflection or impersonation of the body of Kouretes. They 
' allege as their reason ' an aetiological myth. This myth on 
examination turns out to be but the mythical representation of a 
rite of mimic death and resurrection practised at a ceremony of 
initiation. Now the Kouros and the Kouretes 5 are figures that \ 
belong to cultus ; they are what would in common parlance be 


1 Diod. Sic. v. 64. Idaean Daktyls are described as yb-qres who superintend 
eTrySas kcu reXeras ko.1 p.varr\pio.. They invent fire and the use of iron. The magical 
functions of the Kouretes and their aspect as medicine-men will be discussed in 
chapter in. 

2 See especially H. Schurtz, Altersklassen und Mannerbiinde, p. 48. 

3 H. Webster, Primitive Secret Societies, ch. i. The ancient Kouretes seem to 
have had a sort of Man's House at Messene; it was a megaron not a temple. 
See Pausanias, iv. 31. 7 Kovpr/rcov fxtyapov tvda jya to. navra o/xoius Kadayifovoiv. 

4 That institutions analogous to those of the Man's House among savages lived 
on in Crete we have abundant evidence in Strabo's account (x. 483) of Cretan 
institutions. The 'A7e\cu with their apxovres, the (rwratrta, the dvdpela, clearly belong 
to the same social morphology as the Manuerhaus. It is probable that the dpirayr) 
and the custom dwoKpinrreiv rbv iraiSa (Strabo, 483) is a misunderstanding and in 
part a corruption of primitive initiation ceremonies. For a discussion of some 
part of these Cretan customs and their religious origin see Dr E. Bethe, Die dorische 
Knabenliebe, ihre Ethik und Hire Idee in Rhein. Mus. lxii. p. 438. 

5 For the meagre survivals of the actual worship of the Kouretes in historical 
times as attested by inscription see Prof. Bosanquet, q/j. cit. p. 353. 

28 The Hymn of the Kouretes [ch. 

called religious. We are face to face with the fact, startling 
enough, that these religious figures arise, not from any ' religious 
instinct,' not from any innate tendency to prayer and praise, but 
straight out of a social custom. Themis and Dike, invoked 
by the Kouretes, lie at the undifferentiated beginnings of things 
when social spelt religious. They are not late abstractions, but 
primitive realities and sanctities 1 . 

This contradicts, it is clear, many preconceived notions. We 
' are accustomed to regard religion as a matter int ensely spirited 
^ and*H*d ividna,l. Such undou btedly it tends to become, but in its 
o rigin, in the case under inv estigation, it is not s pip' an d 
indivi dual, but social and coll e ctive.,^ But for the existence of a 
tribe or group of some kind, a ceremony of initiation would be 
impossible. The surprise is all the greater because the particular 
doctrine in question, that of the New Birth, is usually held to be 
late and due to ' Orphic,' i.e. quasi Oriental influence. It is held 
to have affinities with Christianity, and is a doctrine passionately 
adhered to by many sects and establishments in the present day. 
It may indeed — in some form or another — as Conversion or as 
Regeneration — be said to be the religious doctrine par excellence. 

Now it has of late been frequently pointed out that the god 
in some sense always ' reflects ' the worshipper, takes on the 
colour of his habits and his thoughts. The morality of a god is 
not often much in advance of that of his worshippers, and some- 
times it lags considerably behind. The social structure is also, it 
is allowed, in some sense reflected in the god : a matriarchal 
society will worship a Mother and a Son, a patriarchal society will 
tend to have a cult of the Father. All this is true, but the truth 
lies much deeper. Not only does the god reflect the thoughts, 
social conditions, morality and the like, but in its origin his 
substance when analysed turns out to be just nothing but the 
representation, the utterance, the emphasis of these imaginations, 
these emotions, arising out of particular social conditions. 

Long ago Robertson Smith 2 noted that among the ancient 
Semites or indeed everywhere antique religion ' was essentially an 
affair of the community rather than of individuals ' ; the benefits 
expected from the gods were of a public character, affecting the 

1 For fuller discussion of this point see chapter x. 

2 Religion of the Semites, 1889, pp. 211, 240. 

i] Social origin of the Kouretes 29 

whole community, especially fruitful seasons, increase of flocks 
and herds, and success in war. The individual sufferer, who to us 
is the special object of Divine protection, was more or less an out- 
cast 1 . ' Hannah with her sad face and silent petition was a strange 
figure at the sanctuary of Shiloh ; the leper and the mourner alike 
were unclean and shut out from the exercises of religion as well 
as from the privileges of social life.' But necessarily at the time 
when Robertson Smith wrote he conceived of a god as something 
existing independently of the community, though very closely 
related. This brings us to our last point. 

So long as religion was defined by its object it was, to the 
detriment of science, confused with theology. It was currently 
supposed that religion was a kind of instinct of the soul after 
some sort of god or spirit or — as the doctrine became more rarefied 
— some innate power of apprehending the infinite' 2 . The blunder 
here made was an elementary one, and took small account of facts. 
The most widespread and perhaps potent of all religions, Buddhism, 
knows no god. The error arose partly from ignorance or careless- 
ness as to facts, and partly from the mistake in method common 
to all pre-scientific enquiry, the mistake of starting with a general 
term religion of which the enquirers had a preconceived idea, and 
then trying to fit into it any facts that came to hand. 

In the present enquiry we shall at the outset attempt no 
definition of the term religion, but we shall collect the facts that 
admittedly are religious and see from what human activities they 
appear to have sprung. The Kouros and the Kouretes are such 
facts. They sprang, we have just seen, from certain social interests 
and activities. The worshippers, or rather the social agents, are 
prior to the god. The ritual act, what the Greeks called the 
Spcofxevov, is prior to the divinity. The psychological genesis of 
the Spwfievov will be examined in the next chapter. 

1 It is when the old tribal sanctions are hroken down that Aidos and Nemesis 
of and for the individual come into force. See Prof. Murray, Rise of the Greek 
Epic-, p. 103. 

- This error, originated I believe by Max Miiller and adopted with various 
modifications and extensions by M. Reville in his Prolegouienes a Vhistoire des 
religions, and by Morris Jastrow in his Study of Religions, has been well exposed 
by Prof. Durkheim in his article De la definition des phenonienes religieux in Annee 
Sociologique, n. (1898), pp. 4 ff . 


eiAceyeTAi yyX<£n. 

We have seen the Kouros grow out of the band of his attend- 
ants the Kouretes, yet the Kouretes and the Kouros remain 
figures somewhat alien and remote, belonging to a bygone 
civilization, only to be realized by comparison with barbarous 
analogies. We have further seen or rather suspected that in the 
thiasos of Dionysos, in his attendant Satyrs, the band of daimones 
who attended the Kouros found its closest analogy. This clue if 
followed leads to a conclusion as unlooked for as it is illuminating 
— Dionysos is the Kouros. The Cretan piil f, <^f tha Tfnnwjiuu.-.. < J 
the Thracian reb 'g 1 '"" pf T^nyo^g arp su bstantiall y nnp. 

Anyone entering the theatre of Dionysos for the first time will 
probably seat himself at once in the great chair of the high priest 
of Dionysos, midway in the front row of the spectators' seats. 
Immediately opposite him, as his Baedeker will inform him, is 
the logeion or ' stage,' as it is usually though incorrectly called, 
of Phaedrus 1 . He will be told that this ' stage ' is late, dating not 
earlier than the time of Septimius Severus (193-211 A.D.), and. in 
his haste to search for the traces of the ancient circular orchestra, 
he may be inclined to pass it by ; yet he will do well to give to 
the sculptured frieze that decorates it a passing glance. On the 
first slab to the right of the steps (Fig. 5) is represented as _is^ 
fitting the birth of the god to whom the theatre is consecrate, 
Dionysos. The birth is just accomplished. Zeus is seated in the 

p. 282 

For archaeological details see niy Mythology and Monuments of Ancient Athens, 


CH. Il] 

Dion}) sos and the Dithyramb 


centre ; opposite him Hermes stands, holding the new-born child ; 
to either side stands a nude guardian figure holding a shield. 
Who are the armed guardians ? Who but the Kouretes ? 

The seated Zeus on the relief is full grown, no longer a Kouros ; 
he is Father of the new-born child — he is the familiar Zeus of 
classical theology, Father of Gods and men. Yet he is attended 
by the Kouretes. Why this shift of functions, this transformation 
of character ? Why this blend of Cretan and Theban mythology ? 
We shall find the answer it may be in the subject of the present 
chapter, the myth and ritual of the Dithyramb. 

' Dithyramb,' like ' Kouros ' and ' Kouretes,' is a word of 
somewhat remote and obscure association. We think of a Dithy- 
ramb not as a god, but as a form of lyric, full of thrill in its very 

Fig. 5. 

name, but excited, exotic, apt to become licentious. It is with the 
form rather than the content of the Dithyramb that the modern 
commentator is mainly concerned. The very name might by now 
have sunk into obscurity as a mere curiosity for specialists, but 
for one fact which most intimately concerns us. We are told on\, 
the best authority 1 that the Dithyramb gave birth to a literary 
offspring greater, more vital than itself — to tragedy. T fce be- 
ginnings of drama and of primitive magical rites are, we shall 
^pxeSWill) 1 bee, in Lei twined ui the very roots! It is then of the first 
Importance that" we shoiTlcI grasp as far as may be the nature and 
origin of the Dithyramb. 

1 This authority has recently been called in question. See Prof. Bidgeway, 
Origin of Tragedy, 1910, passim. 

32 The Dithyramb, hpufxevov and Drama [cn. 

Aristotle in a famous sentence has left us his views as to the 
origin of tragedy. ' Tragedy — as also Comedy,' he says in the 
Poetics 1 , ' was at first mere improvisation. The one originated 
tvith the leaders of the dithyramb, the other w r ith those of 
the phallic songs which are still in use in many of our cities.' 
Dithyramb and drama alike may seem for the moment alien 
to the subject of our last chapter, but it will soon appear that 
an enquiry into their origin and interaction will throw fresh 
light on the relations between the Kouros and the Kouretes, 
and will go far to illuminate the strange conjunction of the 
stage of Phaedrus. 

What then is the Dithyramb ? What element in it caused 
this parting of the w T ays between it and comedy ? Something 
there must have been that differentiated it out from the common 
phallic mime, some seed of beauty and solemn significance that 
was to blossom into tragedy, there to find what Aristotle 2 calls its 
glials, and then to cease. 

Plato 3 is our single and sufficient direct authority. In discussing 
the various sorts of odes he says, ' Some are prayers to the gods, 
and these are called by the title hymns; others of an opposite 
sort might best be called dirges, another sort are paeans, and 
another — the birth of Dionysos I suppose — is called Dithyramb.' 
Plato throws out this all-important statement with a touch of 
indifference (o2/, as of a thing accredited, but too technical to 
be interesting. Scholars 4 , guiltless of any knowledge of initiation- 
ceremonies, have usually assumed that Plato has been misled by 
the false etymology of the Double Door. Is it not at least as 
possible that this false etymology arose, in part of course from 
the form of an ancient ritual title misunderstood, but in greater 
part from the fact that Plato's statement is literally true, that the 

Pitbyramb WI'A.'s miirmally t,hp Sana of the Birth { 

1 iv. 12 yevofiivr] (5 : ) ovv air' dpxns avToax e ° Laa " rl - K Vj Kal o.vtt) Kai r\ KuipLtpdia, Kai rj p.ev 
dirb twv i^ap\6vTU}v t'ov didvpa/xfiov, g 5e dirb tuiv to. (paWiKa a. Zti Kai vvv iv woWais 
twv noXtuv dicLfiivei vafxi'^optva. 

2 op. cit. Kai 7ro\\ds /xerajioXas pLtTa(3a\ovoa ; q rpayuidia tiravaaTO eirel ecrx e T V" 
avTrjs <pvcri.v. 

a Legg. 700 B ...Kai iraiuves erepov Kai d\\o Aiovvaov yevecris, ol/xai, 8idvpafj.j3os 

4 See especially Crusius in Pauly Wissowa, Real- Encyclopa die, s.v. Ditkyranibos, 
p. 120.S. See also my Prolegomena, pp. 412 and 437 — 445, where the sources for 
the Dithyramb as Birth-Song are collected but the connection with the New Birth 
and Initiation Rites is not understood. 

n] The Dithyramb in the Bacchae 33 

Timotheos, tradition said, wrote a Dithyramb called the Birth- 
pangs of Semele (SefieX?7<? eoSiz/e?), and of a Dithyramb by Pindar 
we possess a beautiful fragment (p. 203) which tells of the Birth of 
Bromios from Semele in the spring-time. But the best evidence 
of the truth of Plato's statement comes to us from the Bacchae 1 
of Euripides. The Bacchos has been bound and led off to the 
dungeon ; all seems lost ; and the chorus makes its supreme 
appeal to Thebes not to disallow the worship of the god. They 
chant the story of his miraculous double birth, from which, they 
think, his title of Dithyrambos, He-of-the-Twofold-Door, is derived. 

AchelouV roaming daughter, 
Holy Dirce, virgin water, 
Bathed he not of old in thee, 
The Babe of God, the Mystery ? 
When from out the fire immortal 

To himself his God did take him, 

To his own flesh, and bespake him : 
'Enter now life's second portal, 

Motherless Mystery ; lo, I break 

Mine own body for thy sake, 

Thou of the Twofold Door, and seal thee 

Mine, O Bromios' — thus he spake — 
'And to this thy land reveal thee.' 

I have quoted Prof. Gilbert Murray's version because it 
renders so convincingly the stately, almost stiff, dogmatic, ritual 
tone of the hymn, its formalism which suddenly at the end of the 
strophe breaks into tender and delicate poetry. This strange and 
beautiful song, we are asked to believe, arose not out of ancient 
ritual, but from a grotesque fable based on a false etymology, 
scholars are a race strangely credulous. Once the suggestion 
made, it is surely evident that we have in the song the reflection, 
the presentation, of rites of initiation seen or heard of by Euripides 
among the Bacchants of Macedonia. It is even probable, I think, 
that actual pronouncements from actual ritual formularies are 

The child is snatched by its father Zeus from the immortal 

1 v. 518 ff. 

ore firjpui irupos €$ d- 
Qo.v6.tov Zei)s 6 t€kwv ijp- 
iraai viv rdo' dvafiodaas • 
"Idi, Ai8vpa/J.l3' , e/idc ap- 
aeva rdvde fiddi vrjdvv ■ 
dvoKpaivo} o~e t68' , w Bd/c- 
X'f, Q-qfiafs ovo/xdCeiv. 

34 The Dithyramb, hpdjjxevov and Drama [ch. 

fire — an allusion of course to the Epiphany of Zeus in the Thunder- 
storm. But the ' immortal fire ' also reflects an initiation-rite of 
purgation by fire, a rite which, in weakened form, lasted on to 
classical times in the dfupiSpo/Mia 1 , or ' Running round the fire,' 
performed when the child was from five to seven days old. Such 
a rite lies at the back of the story of Demeter and Demophon 2 . 
The goddess would have made the child ' deathless and ageless 
for all his days ' ; by day she anointed him with ambrosia, by night 
she hid him in the strength of fire like a brand. The expression 
' the strength of fire ' (rrvpos fievos) explains the gist of the rite. 
The child is weak and helpless, exposed to every kind of evil 
chance and sorcery. In fire is a greRtstrpng -th , and th Q cjiijjj 
m ust be put i n contact with this strength to catch its contagion 
and grow strong. The water rite, baptism, has the same intent^ 
Water too is full of sanctit y, of force, of m ana; frhjawgh—wTtfreg^ 
c omes the birth into a new life. In the hymn of the Bacchae it 
almost looks as if the water, the bathing in Dirke, might be for 
the quenching of the burning child, but that is not the original 
notion. The baptism of water and the baptism of fire are to the 
same end, the magical acquisition of ghostly strength. In ancient 
Christian ritual before the candidate was immersed a blazing 
torch was thrust down into the font. The emphasis was rather 
on regeneration than purification. 

The child then is purified, or rather perhaps we should say 
strengthened and revitalized, by fire and water ; new and stronger 
life is put into him. Yet another rite remains of singular signifi- 
cance, and it is introduced with emphasis 3 . The Father-god 
' cries aloud ' (dva/3oda-a<;) 4 . This loud, clear, emphatic utterance 
makes us expect some weighty ritual pronouncement, and such a 
pronouncement immediately follows : Come, Dithyrambos, enter 

1 For sources see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. 

2 Horn. Hymn n. 239 viicras 5e Kpuwrea-Ke irvpbs /j.ivei tjvtc da\6v. See Mr E. W. 
Halliday, Note on Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 239 ff. in Class. Eev. 1911, p. 8. 

3 Eur. Bacch. 526 

idi, Aidvpap.^', ifxav dp- 
aeva rdvSe fiadi vrjdijv 
dva<paivu]"cl^ t68\ <Z> Bd/c- 
X'f, 0^/3au ovopidfciv. 

4 /3oi7, originally fHopri, the lowing of cattle, seems to be a regular ritual word. I 
Pindar [01. xin. 25) calls the Dithyramb j3or)\a.Tas, and in the account in the 
Philosophoumena, ed. Cruice, 1860, p. 170, of the mystic birth in the Eleusinian 
Mysteries it is said of the Hierophant ftoa ko.1 KeKpaye \4ywv, iepbv £re/ce worvia 

KOVpOV, BplfllO BpL/JLOV. 

n] Dithyramb reflects Initiation-Rites 35 

this my male womb. The child is to be born anew, not of his 
mother Seraele, but of his father Zeus, and — significant fact — his 
Epiphany at Thebes is to be marked by the new name Dithy- 
rambos, common to child and Birth-song alike. What does it all 
mean ? 

Taken at its face value it is of course nonsense. The God 
Dithyrambos is born of his mother, well and good.* He was not, 
could not be, born again of his father. Birth belongs to the 
category of facts that cannot be repeated. How then is the second 
birth explained by scholars ? Until quite lately it was left at its 
face value : it was nonsense, only it was ' poetical ' nonsense. 
Moreover it was a mystery, and into a mystery it was perhaps 
as well not to look too closely. By an ancient mystery people 
used to understand something enacted in secret, and probably 
offensive. To the word mystery we now attach a perfectly definite 
meaning. A mystery is a rite, a Spco/xevov enacted with magical 
intent. It is secret, not because it is indecent, but because it is 
intensely social, decent and entirely sacred. 

When the critical spirit awoke, and it was felt that some 
definite meaning must be attached to the second birth of the 
Dithyramb, the next suggestion was that it embodied a social 
shift from matriarchy to patriarchy. This was a step in the right 
direction because it was an attempt to see in a religious dogma 
the utterance, the projection of a social fact ; but the explanation, 
though it has elements of truth, is, I now feel 1 , inadequate. The 
shift from matriarchy to patriarchy never crystallized into a rite, 
never burst into a ritual hymn. 

T he birth from the father cannot be real ; it must therefore be 
sham, or to speak more elegantly, it must be mimetic. When we 
examine later the nature and psychology of a hpwfievov it will be 
seen that all rites qua ri tes are mimetic, but the rite of the 
N ew Birth is in its essence the mimetic rite par excellence. 
After our discussion of the Kouretes the gist of this mimetic rite 
needs no further elucidation. Th e New Birth of the Dithyramb ,| 
lik e the New Birth of the Kouros, reflects a tribal rite of initiation^ 
and in both cases we have a blend of two sorts of rites, the rites 

1 As such I explained it in my Prolegomena, p. 411. The explanation was 
I believe first offered by Bachofen in his Mutterrecht. 


36 The Dithyramb, hpt^vov and Drama [on. 

of in&ncy, the rites of adolescence. Ouc point however requires , 
further emphasis. 

In the case of the Kooros the child is taken from its .mother | 
in the case of the Dithyramb it is actually re-born iron , the th gh 
of its father. In both cases the intent is the same, but in the 
case of the Dithyramb it is far more emphatically expressed The^ 
W h *™ ^ male womb is to rid^ hadtomJhaJBfe^ 
B?iSiffi5=Z tun. Mm from a^n-thing into a man-thing. 
TTOSTTo primitive man is a thing at once weak and magical to 
be oppressed, yet feared. She is charged wtth powers of child- 
bearinl denied to man, powers only half understood forces of 
attraction, but also of danger and repulsion, forces that al over 
the world seem to fill him with dim terror. The attitude of man 
to woman, and, though perhaps in a less degree, of woman to man, 
is still to-day essentially magical. 

^5rornaa5!ce-ig^^rSiti»*»» nteT^em w,th 
S^mon^nT^Ufe^everywliere hampered by sex 
W. Among the tribes of Western V.ctoria if a oy is caugh 
eating a female opossum he is severely punished it .ill make 
h™ Mike a girl/ that is peevish and discontented. Among the 
Cinjn during initiation a boy may not eat any food that has 
even belonged to a woman ; everything he possesses becomes like 
jrselL'uarunibe/ taboo to women, saered from their touch. 
I he eats with a woman he will grow ugly and become grey 
Among the Kugis a woman with child-who naturally at that 
time if doubly a'woman-may not even give food to her husband 
f such a woman among the Indians of Guiana eat of game .caught 
by hounds, the hounds will become so emasculate that they will 
never be able to hunt again. 

The Kouretes, it will be remembered', take the child from the 
mother, Rhea. At Sparta, Plutarch' tells us-and Dorian Sparta 

i t „;™ *vp taken from the large collection made by 
Dr Frazer, Golden Bough*, vol. i. 326, in. 204 n. 

n] Dithyramb reflects Initiation-Rites 37 

is, as much as Crete, the home of primitive custom — at Sparta it 
was not left even to the father, much less to the mother, to decide 
what children he would rear ; he was obliged to bring the child 
to a place called the Lesche, there to be examined by the most 
ancient men of the tribe to see if he was stout and strong and fit 
to be a tribesman. If he was weakly he was thrown down a crag 
of Taygetos. It must have been an anxious time for many a 
mother, and that anxiety is, it may be, in part reflected in the 
many stories of mothers who hide their child directly after birth. 
Rhea hides Zeus from Kronos. Auge 1 has a child by Heracles and 
conceals him. Evadne 2 hid her child amid the reeds in a dim 
thicket, and ' his tender body was bedewed with the gleam of 
pansy flowers purple and gold, and no man had seen him or heard 
of him though he was now born five days.' Stories of this type, 
where the child is hid by the mother from fear of the father, have 
hitherto been explained 3 by some story of a divine father and the 
mother's fear of the human father's anger. 

The child, whether concealed or acknowledged, might remain 
with its mother for a time. She will practise on it her mother- 
rites. She will, perhaps, like the Spartan 4 mother, wash her baby 
with wine to strengthen it. She will certainly bathe or sprinkle 
it with holy water and pass it through the fire. She may wean it 
from her own breast and feed it with honey and alien milk, but, 
sooner or later, the day of separation is at hand. The Kouretes 
of the tribe will come and will take him away, will hide him for 
weeks or months in the bush, will clothe him in strange clothes, 
teach him strange dances and strange lore, and bring him back 
all changed, with a new soul, the soul of his tribe, his mother's 
child no more, trained it may be henceforth to scorn or spit at 
her. He belongs from henceforth to his father and to the Man's 

Nowhere have I been able to find among savage tribes any 
mimic birth from the father 5 , that is any strict parallel to the 

1 Paus. viii. 4. 8. 

2 Pind. 01. vi. 52 

rol 5 ovt' uv aKovaai 
oin' idetv eOxovro ire/XTTTcuov yeyevafx4vov ' dXX' iv 
K^KpvTTTO yap <JX 0Lvt t> fiaria eV aireipaTU. 

3 The new explanation offered here was suggested to me by Mr F. M. Cornford. 

4 Plutarch, op. cit. 

5 The customs of the Couvade which might seem to belong here can I think be 
otherwise better explained. 

38 The Dithyramb, Spa>/xevov and Drama [ch. 

mimic birth of Dithyrambos from the thigh of Zeus, though, such 
is the secrecy about initiation rites, that a ceremony of this kind 
may well exist unrecorded and only wait observation. But at the 
initiation rites known as the Bora 1 in New South Wales the 
' surrender of the boys by their mother is dramatically represented. 
A circle is marked out, the mothers of those to be initiated stand 
just outside it, the boys are bidden to enter the circle, and thus 
magically pass from the women to the men of the tribe. 

The Spw/xevov then that underlies the ritual of the Dithyramb 
and of the Kouros is one and the same, the rite of the New Birth. 
This is the cardinal doctrine of the Bacchae. That is why in their 
hour of supreme peril they invoke the Dithyramb. It is against 
this rite of the New Birth that Pentheus blasphemes. It is to 
that Rite personified as Purity, Sanctity, Holiness, that the 
Bacchants raise their Hymn 2 : 

Thou Immaculate on high, 
Thou Recording Purity. 

The Hj^mn of the New Birth becomes a god Dithyrambos y 
the Rite of Purification becomes a goddess Purity — Hosia, and 
Purity outraged is near akin to the Dike later (v. 1015) invoked. 
Both are guardians of ra vofiijxa. 

It has been seen that the Kouros is but the projection of the 
Kouretes ; it is equally manifest that Dionysos is but his thiasos 
incarnate. But here instantly a difficulty presents itself. Dionysos, 
the Bacchos, has a thiasos of Bacchae. But how can a thiasos of 
women project a young male god ? They cannot and do not. Who 
then do they worship, what divine figure is their utterance ? They 
tell us themselves ; they shout it at us in a splendid ritual song. 

In the first chorus they chant the praise of Thebes, birthplace 
of the Dithyramb son of Semele : 

All hail, Thebes, thou nurse of Semele ! 

With Semele's wild ivy crown thy tower.s 3 . 

1 Webster, Primitive Secret Societies, p. 21, quoting Matthews. 

2 v. 170 'Oo-ta -wbrva. 6e€>v. For oaia with the meaning 'rite of initiation,' see 
Horn. Hymn to Demeter, 211 5ei;a/j.ev7] 5' 6<ri7)s iire^-q iroKviroTuia At?u>. In offering this 
interpretation, and in what follows as to the Bacchants, I do not mean to imply 
that Euripides was always fully conscious of the primitive material which lay 
behind his plot. 

3 Eur. Bacch. 105 w Ze/xeXas rpo<pol Qrj- 

/3a(, <7Te<pavov<jde. Ki<TCt+. 

n] The Maenads as Mothers 39 

Then in the antistrophe they turn and sing, of what ? Of 
Crete and the Kouretes, of Mother Rhea and the Child Zeus 1 . 

Hail thou, O Nurse of Zeus, Caverued Haunt, 

Where fierce arms clanged to guard God's cradle rare. 

For thee of old some crested Corybant 
First woke in Cretan air, 

The wild orb of our orgies, 
Our Timbrel. 

The chorus has neither sense nor antiphonal structure of 
meaning, save that the worship of the Dithyramb was one with 
the worship of the Kouros. The priest of Dionysos as he sat in 
his great seat and looked across at the ' stage of Phaedrus ' with 
its seated Zeus, its new-born Dionysos, its attendant Kouretes, 
would remember and understand. 

And, that there may be no mistake, the chorus insist that the 
ritual gear of Dionysos is the ritual gear of the Mother : 

The timbrel, the timbrel was another's, 

And back to mother Rhea must it wend. 
And to our holy singing from the Mother's, 
The mad Satyrs carried it to blend 
In the dancing and the cheer 
Of our third and perfect Year, 
And it serves Dionysos in the end 2 . 

The Bacchants are not indicating the analogy between two 
cults as though they were a parcel of commentators making 
marginal notes. Half mad with excitement they shout aloud the 
dogmas of their most holy religion — the religion of the Mother 
and the Child. 

The Maenads are the mothers and therefore the nurses of the 
holy child ; only a decadent civilization separates the figures of 
mother and nurse. As nurses they rear the holy child till the 
armed, full-grown men take him away to their new Child-Rearing 

1 Eur. Bacch. 119 

2 v. 130 

u> da\a.fxev/xa Kovpri- 
T(x>v £ddeoi re KprjTCLS 
Aioyeviropes ?i>av\oi. 

Trapa Si fxaivo/xevoi JUdrvpoi 
p-aripos i^avvaavro 6eas, 

is 8e x°P € ^f laTa 
avvrjipav Tpi€TTjpL8wv, 
cus x a 'P €t Ai6vi/(7os. 

40 The Dithyramb, hpcofxevov and Drama [ch. 

(7rai8oTpo(f)La). As nurses they are thrice familiar. In Homer 1 
the god has his nurses {TiOrjvai), chased by Lykoorgos : 

Through Nysa's goodly land 
He Dionysos' Nursing Nymphs did chase. 

Sophocles in the Oedipus at Colonos' 2 knows of the Nurses : 

Footless sacred shadowy thicket, where a myriad berries grow, 
Where no heat of the sun may enter, neither wind of the winter blow, 
"Where the Reveller Dionysos with his Nursing Nymphs will go. 

At Delphi, Plutarch 3 tells us, the Thyiades, nurses of Dionysos, 
wake up the child Dionysos in the cradle. 

The BacchaDts are the Mothers ; that is why at their coming 
they have magical power to make the whole earth blossom : 

Oh burst in bloom of wreathing bryony, 
Berries and leaves and flowers 4 . 

It is not only the ' wild white maids,' but the young mothers 
with babes at home who are out upon the mountains : 

And one a young fawn held, and one a wild 
Wolf cub, and fed them with white milk, and smiled 
In love, young mothers with a mother's heart, 
And babes at home forgotten 5 ! 

At the touch of their wands, from the rocks break out streams of 
wine and water, and milk and honey 6 . 

It is at the great service of the Mothers on Mount Cithaeron 
that the whole of creation moves and stirs and lives : 

All the mountain felt 
And worshipped with them, and the wild things knelt 
And ramped, and gloried, and the wilderness 
Was filled with moving voices and dim stress 7 . 

It is against the religion of the Bacchants, as Nurses and 
Mothers of all that is, that Pentheus rages, charging them, the 
Mothers, with license, banning their great service of Aphrodite. 

1 n. vi. 129 

6s 7TOT6 p.aivop.evoi.0 Aiuviktolo ridr/vas 
<reve icar' rryadeov Ni'cnjioi'. 

2 v. 679 lv 6 paKxiwras 

aei Awvvcros ^u/3arei''« 

deais d/j.<pLiro\u>v Tidrjvais. * 

3 De Isid. et Os. ...orav at 6iu'a5es eyelpucri rbv AikvItj)v. For Dionysos Liknites 
see Prolegomena, p. 402. ■*■ 

4 Eur. Bacch. 107 

ftpi/ere, fipvtTe, y\oi)pei. 

fiiXciKl KaWlK&pTTU} K.T.X. 

* v. 699. 6 v. 705. ' v. 726. 

n] The Child and the Kouros 41 

And, appealing to their most holy Rite of the New Birth, they 
turn and answer his foul-mouthed blasphemy in that song of 
increase and grace and peace unspeakable 1 : 

Where is the Home for me ? 

Cyprus set in the sea, 
Aphrodite's home in the soft sea-foam 

Would I could wend to thee ; 

and, in the awful irony of the end, it is by his mother's hand that 
"Pentheus is torn to pieces. 

The attitude of Pentheus seems to us blasphemous, intolerable ; 
yet if we reflect calmly it is not hard to see how it arose. The 
divine figures of Mother and Child reflect the social conditions of 
•a matriarchal group with its rite of adolescent initiation; its 
factors are the mother, the child and the tribe, the child as babe 
andjater as Kouros. But when, chiefly through the accumulation 
of property, matriarchy passes and patriarchy takes its place, the 
relation of mother to child is less prominent ; the child is viewed 
as part of the property of the father. Moreover with the decay of 
matriarchy, initiation ceremonies lose their pristine significance. 
It is not hard to see that, given women worshippers and a young 
male god grown to adolescence, the relation of son to mother 
might be misconceived as that of lover to bride. We find the 
same misunderstanding of matriarchal conditions in the parallel 
figures of Adonis and Aphrodite. 

The memory of primitive matriarchal conditions often survives 
rather curiously in mythology. Dionysos is not alone. Again 
and again we have stories of this god or that who is 'reared by 
the Nymphs.' Apollo tells Hermes how the Thriae, the bee- 
maidens, reared him in a glade of Parnassos ; they taught him 
•soothsaying while he tended his kine, and — he adds naively — 

my father took no heed 2 . 
So far theu it has been established that behind the Dithyramb 

l ay a rite, a 8pco/ji€vov, and that rite was one of group tntTiation. 
Fur ther it has been seen that the group belonged to the social 

1 Eur. Bacch. 402, adopting the Oxford text ; for other readings and views see 
Dr Verrall, The Bacchants of Euripides, p. 155. 

2 Horn. Hymn to Hermes, 557 

Trarrip 8' efibs ovk o.\eyi$ev. 

42 The Dithyramb, hpu^evov and Drama [oh. 

structu re known as ma triarc hal, a structure reflected in the divine 
1 fi gures of Mother and Babe or K onrns ra ther than in J J^t4r-of 
Father and S on. We shall have later to consider more closely 
how the divine figure developed from the human institution ; but 
first it is all-important that we should examine and if possible 
jj define the precise nature of a hpwfievov. We shall then be in a 
position to see more clearly how from the particularSpft^teyoy_ 
» u nder consideration J the Dithyramb, Jarose, on the one hand, for 
theology, a god* on the other, if Aristotle b e right, for art ^the, . 
drama. 1 . 

Etymologically Spco/xeva are of course things done 2 . It is, 
however, at once evident that the word in its technical use as- 
meaning religious rites, sacra, does not apply to all things done* 
The eating of your dinner, the digesting of your food, are assuredly 
things done, and very important things, but they are not Spcofieva. 
Nor does a thing done become a hpwfxevov simply because it is 
done socially, collectively ; a large number of persons may eat and 
digest their dinner collectively, yet the act remains secular. What 
is it that adds the sanctity 3 , that makes the act in our sense 
religious ? 

First the act must be strongly felt about, must cause or be 
caused by a k een emotion. The great events of life, birth,, 
adolescence, marriage, death, do not incessantly repeat themselves;. 
1 V it is about these events that religion largely focuses. When the 
getting of certain foods was irregular and' precarious, a source of 
anxiety and joy, the eating of such foods was apt to be religious 
and protected by taboos. The regular rising and setting of sun 
and moon and stars, because regular, cause little or no emotion ; 
hut rnliginn r-nrly fnnnnrd '">" t.l|jnors " f tension and terror, the 
thunderstorm and the monsoon. Such manifestations cau3e*"\>ivid 
reactions. Tension finds relief in excited m ovement ; you dance 
and leap fort'ear, tor joy, tor sheer psychological relief. It is this 

1 In the present chapter tbe first only of these questions will be considered, the 
I genesis of the god from tbe 8pu>fievov. The relation of drama to the Dithyramb is 
J reserved for chapters vn. and viii., and see Prof. Murray's Excursus after chapter via. 

2 In the specialized sense of 'rites' Spuj/j.eva consist of two factors (a) the thing 
done, the dpcbfievov proper, and (b) tbe thing said, rb Xeydfievov. The thing said, 
which is the element of myth, will be considered later, p. 327. 

;i The notion of sanctity will be further analysed in chapter in. 

n] Psychology of the hpa>^evov 43 

exc ited doingy this danci ng, that is t he very kernel of bot h dram a 
and Spco/jbevoi'. Our~~Kouretes were dancers {pp^qarripe^). 

A high emotional tension is best caused and maintained by a J 
thing felt socially. The individual in a savage tribe has but 
a thi rfand nieagre personality. If he dances alone he will not 
dance long ; but if his whole tribe dances together he will dance 
the live-long night and his emotion will mount to passion, to 
ecstasy. Save for the yop ^^ the band, there would be no drama 
and no Spoofievov. Emotion socialized, felt collectively, is emotion 
intensified and rendered permanent. Intellectually the group is ' 
weak ; everyone knows this who has ever sat on a committee and 
arrived at a confused compromise. Emotionally the group is 
strong; everyone knows this who has felt the thrill of speaking 
to or acting with a great multitude. 

The next step or rather notion implied is all important. A 
Spoofievov is as we said not simply a thing done, not even a thing- 
excitedly and socially done. What is it then ? It is a thing 
?^e-done or pre-doue, a thing enacted or represented. It is some- 
times re-done, commemorative, sometimes pre-done, anticipatory, 
and both elements seem to go to its religiousness. When a tribe 
comes back from war or from hunting, or even from a journey, 
from any experience in fact that from novelty or intensity causes 
strong emotion, the men will, if successful, recount and dance their 
experiences to the women and children at home. Such a dance 
we should perhaps scarcely call religious, but when the doings of 
dead chiefs in the past or ancestors are commemorated, when the 
dance is made public and social, and causes strong emotion, it 
takes on a religious colour 1 . The important point to note is that 
the hunting, fighting, or what not, the thing done, is never 
religious ; the thing re-done with heightened emotion is on the 
way to become so. The element of action re-done, imitated, the 
element of /xl/atio-is, is, I think, essential. In all religion, as in all 
art, there is this element of make-believe. Not the attempt to 
deceive, but a desire to re-live, to re-present. 

Why do we 'represent' things at all ; why do we not just do 
them and have done with it ? This is a curious point. The 

1 This element of commemoration in the dpwuevov will be more fully examined 
when we reach the question of the relation of hero-worship to the drama 
(chapter vin.). 

44 The Dithyramb, Spvixevov and Drama [en. 

occasion, though scarcely the cause, of these representations is 
fairly clear. Psychologists tell us that representations, ideas, 
imaginations, all the intellectual, conceptual factors in our life 
V are mainly due to deferred reactions. If an impulse finds instantly 
its appropriate satisfaction, there is no representation. It is out 
of the delay, just the space between the impulse and the reaction, 
that all our mental life, our images, ideas, our consciousness, our 
will, most of all our religion, arise. If we were utterly, instantly 
satisfied, if we were a mass of well contrived instincts, we 
should have no representations, no memory, no fjLi/j,7)cn<;, no 
8pa)[x,eva, no drama. _Art and religion alike spring from un- 
satisfied desire 1 . 

Another point should be noted. When the men return from 

, the war, the hunt, the journey, and re-enact their doings, they 

' . i are at first undoubtedly representing a particular action that 

AA> ' actually has taken place. Their drama is history or at least 

. I narrative ; they say in effect, such and such a thing did happen 

' * in the past. Everything with the savage begins in this particular 

i L wa y- But, it * s eas y to see that, if the dramatic commemoration 

Y^^ be often repeated, the action tends to cut itself loose from the 

particular in which it arose and become generalized, abstracted as 

it were. The particular hunt, journey, battle, is in the lapse of 

time forgotten or supplanted by a succession of similar hunts, 

Jtiif^ journeys, battles, and the dance comes to commemorate and 

^ embody hunting, journeying, fighting. Like children they play 

fn^J not at a funeral, but at ' funerals,' births, battles, what not. To 

put it grammatically, the singular comes first, but the singular 

gets you no further. The plural detaches you from the single 

concrete fact; and all the world over, the plural, the neuter plural 

as we call it, begets the abstract. Moreover, the time is no longer 

particular, it is undefined, not what happened but what happens. 

Such a dance generalized, universalized, is material for the next 

stage, the dance jare-done. 

The religious character of /u/i^crt? comes out perhaps more 
clearly when the action is pre-done, for here we are closely neigh- 
boured by magic. A tribe about to go to war will dance a war 

1 For the function of imitation in the development of religious rites see Dr P. 
Beck, Die Nachahmung und Hire Bedeutung fur Psychologie und Volkerkunde, 
Leipzig, 1904. 

n] Collective Emotion 45 

dance, men about to start out hunting will catch their game in 
pantomime. Such cases are specially instructive because it is 
fairly clear that the drama or Spco/j-ei'ou here is a sort of pre- 
cipitated desire, a discharge of pent-up emotion. The thought of 
the hunt, the desire to catch the game or kill the enemy cannot 
find expression yet in the actual act; it grows and accumulates by 
inhibition till at last the exasperated nerves and muscles can bear 
it no longer and it breaks out into mimetic, anticipatory actiun. 
Mimetic, not of what you see done by another, but of what you 
desire to do yourself. 

Now so far in these mimetic rites, whether commemorative or 
anticipatory or magical, though they cover a large portion of the 
ceremonies that when practised by savage peoples we call religious, 
there is certainly nothing present that by any straining of language 
can be called a god, nothing equivalent to what we mean now-a- 
days by worship. In the Hymn of the Kouretes, as has already 
been noted, though the god is there as Kouros, he is not wor- 
shipped ; there is no praise, nor prayer, nor sacrifice, he is simply 
bidden to come and to 'leap,' he and his attendants. The all- 
important question must now be asked, how did this figure of the 
god arise ? The answer has been in part anticipated in the 
account of the Kouros. 

The Dithyramb, we are always told, was not the outpouring of 
an individual inspired singer, but rather a choric dance, the dance 
and song of a band. As singing a Birth-Song the band must have 
been a band of youth's just initiated or about to be initiated, dancing 
an excited mimetic dance; but in less specialized rites it might be 
a war- dance, a rain-dance, a thunder-dance. The dancers dancing 
together utter their conjoint desire, their delight, their terror, in 
steps and gestures, in cries of fear or joy or lamentation, in shrieks 
of war. In so uttering they inevitably emphasize and intensify 
it. Moreover being a collective emotion it is necessarily felt as 
something more than the experience of the individual, as some- 
thing dominant and external. The dancers themselves by every 
means in their power seek to heighten this effect. They sink 
their own personality and by the wearing of masks and disguises, 
by dancing to a common rhythm, above all by the common 
excitement, they become emotionally one, a true congregation, not 

46 The Dithyramb, Spcofxevov and Drama [ch. 

a collection of individuals. The emotion they feel collectively, the 
thing that is more than any individual emotion, t hey externalize , 
project j it is the raw material of god-head. Primitive gods are to 
a large extent collective enthusiasms, uttered, formulated. Le dieu 
c'est le desir exteriorise, personnifie 1 . 

Strong and dominant though this collective emotion is, it 
might never crystallize into anything like a personality but for 
a nucleus of actual fact. Democratic or oligarchic though 
primitive peoples tend to be, the band of dancers, fhp ^2pn?, htj °_ 
for practical convenience a leader, a n e^apyps' 1 . The Kouretes 
have a 'greatest Koures ' ; an inscription 3 from Ephesos mentions 
not only a college of Kouretes, but an official known as a Chief 
Koures {irpwroKovpr)^). Among the officials of the thiasos of 
Iobacchoi 4 at Athens, whose club-rules have come down to us 
intact, is an archbacchos (dpyi,/3aKyo<;). 

Having chosen as spokesman, leader an d represent ative a 
TrpoiTQKovpri ^j ^praesul or chTe'f~ , dTCTTcer7 they differenti ateZiliniT" 
to thp. utmost, him their vicar, and then draw off. Their 
attitude becomes gradually one of contemplation and respect ; 
community of emotion ceases. More and more the chorus become 
interested spectators, at first wholly sympathetic, later critical. 
Theatric ally gppakjnnr _^ P 7 become an audience, religiously, the 
worshipprr" nf n ~orl — The process of severance between god and 
worshipper, actor and audience, is slow. Actual worship, of prayer 
and praise and sacrifice, denotes that the severance is complete ; 
ritual such as that of the Kouretes, in which the god is ' summoned ' 
and bidden to leap, denotes an intermediate stage when he is 
merely representative and felt to be of like passions though of 
higher potency than his summoner. Gradually the chorus loses 
all sense that the god is themselves, he is utterly projected, no 
longer chief daemon (8ai/u,6vcov ayovfievos), but unique and aloof, 
a perfected deos. Strong emotion collectively experienced begets 
this illusion of objective reality ; each worshipper is conscious of 
something in his emotion not himself, stronger than himself. He 

1 See E. Doutte, Magie et Religion, 1909, p. 601 ; for other elements that go to 
the making of a god see chapter m. 

2 Cf. Aristotle, loc. cit., dird tQ>v i^apx^ruv rod Aidvpa/j.(3ov, and Euripides, 
Bacch. HO 6 5' ^apxos Bp6/xios. 

■■■ Dittenberger, Syll. i.- 1861, 1. 

J See my Prolegomena, pp. 656 and 475. 

n] The god a projection from the group 47 

does not know it is the force of collective suggestion, he calls it a 
god. As Philo' puts it, ' Bacchic and Korybantic worshippers rave 
until they actually see what they desire.' 

This process of projection, of deification, is much helped by what 
we may perhaps call the story-telling i nstinct . The god like his 
worshipper must have a life-history. We hear much of the suffer- 
ings {irddr^) of Dionysos. T fyey are of course primarily the projected 
irdOt] of his worshippers; the worshippers have passed through 
the rite of Second Birth, have endured the death th at issues in" 
rej mrrecTn uii ; Lherefuie the god is iwice-rjorn. But once the life- 
history projected, it tends to consolidate the figure of the god and 
to define his personality, to crystallize and clear it of all demonic 
vagueness. Even in the time of the Christian fathers 2 it was 
realized that the great festivals of the gods were commemorations 
of the events of a god's life — his birth, his marriage, his exploits, 
sufferings, death. They used this undoubted fact as an argument 
to show that the gods were but divinized men, whose deeds 
(d&Xa) were solemnly commemorated. What the Christian fathers 
necessarily could not realize was that it was the social life of the 
group rather than the individual that became the object of 
religious representation. 

"Nowhere so clearly as in the religion of Dionysos do we see 
the steps of the making of the god, and nowhere is this religion 
so vividly presented to the imagination as in the Bacchae of 
Euripides. The very vividness, the oneness of the perception, 
seen with the single intention of the poet, makes it to us hard of 
apprehension and has rendered necessary the cold psychological 
analysis just attempted. 

The question is often raised — is the Bacchos the god Dionysos 
himself or merely a human leader, an adept, an impostor, as 
Pentheus held ? He is one and both, human and divine, because, as 
we have seen, divinity at its very source is human. In the Bacchae 

1 de vit. contemplat. 2, p. 473 M. oi ^aKxevd/nevoi Kai KopvfiavTQivTes evdovaid^oviri 
(J.€XP LS &" T0 Trodov/xevou 'idwcriv. See Eobde, Psyche, p. 304. 

2 See S. August, de civitat. del, vn. 18 Unicuique eorum...ex ejus ingenio, 
moribus, actibus, casibus, sacra et solennia constituta. Lactantius, Divin. instit. 
v. 20 Ipsos ritus...vel ex rebus gestis bominuru, vel ex casibus, vel etiam ex 
mortibus natos. Ludorum celebrationes deorum i'esta sunt, siquidem ob natales 
eorum vel temple-rum novorum dedicationes sunt constituti, and see vi. 20. The 
question of the life-history of the god, that is the orderly sequence of his festivals, 
will be discussed when we come to the iviavros, p. 331. 

48 The Dithyramb, ^pojfxevov and Drama [ch. 

we catch the god in the three stages of his making, stages that 
shift with the changing scenes. He is a human leader, an e^ap-^o^y 
6 8' ei;apxo<; Bpo/*to9 1 ; lie is half divinized, a daimon more than 
mortal, 6 Sal/ncov 6 Ato? ■nal<;' 2 . In the prologue he has no thiasos, 
he is alone, cut loose from the x°P ( ^' i that projected him, a full- 
blown Olympian ®eo9. 

Full-blown but never full-grown. Unlike Zeus he rarely quite 
grows up; Father-hood is never of his essence. Always through 
the Bacchae he is the young male god with tender face and fair 
curled hair. What seemed to Pentheus in his ignorance a base 
effeminacy is but the young bloom and glory of the Kouros. His- 
name, of which philologists seem at last to have reached the 
interpretation, tells the same tale ; he is Dionysos 3 , Zeus- Young- 
Man, Zeus Kouros. As Bacchos he is but the incarnate cry of 
his thiasos, Iacchos 4 . So the god Paean is but the paean, the song 

We have been told perhaps too often that the essence of the 
Bacchic as contrasted with the Olympian religion is the doctrine 
of union and communion with the god. Now at last we see why: 
Bacchic religion is based on the collective emotion of the thiasos. 
Its god is a projection of group-unity. Dr Verrall in his essay 
on the Bacchants of Eurijrides 5 hits the mark in one trenchant, 
illuminating bit of translation, 'The rapture of the initiated,' he 
says, ' lies essentially in this : " his soul is congregationalized," 

The Olympians are, as will later 6 appear, the last product of 
rationalism, of individualistic thinking ; the thiasos has projected 
them utterly. Cut off from the very source of their life and being, 
><the emotion of the thiasos, they desiccate and die. Dionysos with 
his thiasos is still — Comus, still trails behind him the glory of 
the old group ecstasy. 

1 Eur. Bacch. 140. 

2 v. 416. 

3 See Kretschmer, Aus der Anomia, 1890, p. 25 thess. Aibvvvaos * Ai6(a)vvffos, 
sk. snus-d, ahd. snura, lat. nurus, gr. vvbs (*owcr6s). The notion that Dionysos 
was a young Zeus survived into late days. Thus the scholiast on Apollonius 
Ehodius (i. 917) says ol 8Z duo wpbrepov efocu roiis KajieLpovs, &ia re Trpecr^vrepov koI 
Aiovvaov veu)Tepov. 

* Bacchos = Iacchos = pipa.Kxos, see Prellwitz, Etymologisches Worterbuch, p. 191; 
for Iacchos see my Prolegomena, p. 541. . 

5 p. 39. 6 Chapter x. 

Aw. 1 

n] Religion reflects group emotion 49 

To resume So far we have seen that the religion of the 
Kouros and the Kouretes, and of Dionvsos and his ,h;. 
substantial,, the same. Both are the refleXn^a^X^ 
and of socal conditions which are matriarchal and i P hasT Z e° he 
figures of Mother and Child. The cardinal doctrine of both 
ehgmns . the doctrine of the New Birth, and this doctrine is the 
reflects of the nte of social initiation. One element in the 
makmg of a god we have seen to be the projection of collective 
emotnm, the reaction of man on his fellow mi. But man d Is 
not stt m the void reacting on his fellow man; we have now to 
consider h,s reaction on the world of nature that surrounds him 




SA rip « "«"^» ^ " ^ NM " C Kftl " " di * dC T ° tC 4i " NM ' 

WE have not yet dene with the Kouretes. A fragment of the 

OrZl of Euripides preserved for us by Porphyry' .n hrs treatrse 

» TeJtariamsrn contams a somewhat detaded account of a 

ereumnial eondueted by them which is of hrgh -P" ^ 

our rrument It has eertain analogies to the ntes of New Bnth 

in the lost play. The evidence is m part drawn from another 

recently discovered f' a S ment \ 0r(fe A ohild has be en 

We are in the palace of llinos tn were. ^ - 

Wn to tie royal house, a portent, the monstrous Mmotaur. 

born to the oy ^ ^ ^ m(jamng 

mllZt Tb : .Cue remind, us of another lost play 
ItEuSe Melanippe the Wise', where the portentous twms are 
H Z llelanippeto her famous, rationalizing, truly Eunprdean 

, de jm. .v. 19; ■** »* « 2 ' F » the * hoto f, ' ,gmCn ' See my Pr, " e! """" < " 

&K"i»; SS aJSESt. **: »— *■ £ " ri "* s - WieEer E "" os ' 

50 Vers. Graz, 1909. 
» Nauck, Frg. 484. 

ch. in] The Kouretes as Medicine-Men 51 

speech, explains that the order of the cosmos is fixed and that 
such thiugs as portents cannot be. Minos then sends for the 
priests and medicine men, the Idaean Daktyls, presumably to 
purify the palace and bring peace and understanding. They leave 
their secret sanctuary on Ida — the strange manner of its building 
they describe, they come in white robes to the terror-stricken 
palace and in solemn anapaests tell of the manner of their life 
on Mount Ida and of the initiation ceremonies that have made 
them what they are and have given them authority to cleanse and 

Their avowal of ritual acts performed on Mount Ida is as 
follows : 

There in one pure stream 

My days have run, the servant I 

Initiate of Idaean Jove; 

Where midnight Zagreus roves, I rove. 
I have endured his thunder-cry, 

Fulfilled his red and bleeding feasts; 

Held the Great Mother's mountain flame; 

Enhallowed 1 and named by name 
A Bacchos of the Mailed Priests. 

Robed in pure white I have borne me clean 
From man's vile birth and coffined clay 
And exiled from my lips alway 

Touch of all meat where Life hath been 1 . 

The analogies between these rites and the initiation rites 
discussed in the last chapter are obvious. We have here as there 
to do with mysteries performed by the ' mailed priests,' the 
Kouretes, and these mysteries are mysteries of Zagreus, and of 
the Great Mother, and of Zeus. But, be it noted, it is Idaean, 
not Diktaean Zeus whom the Kouretes now serve. This leads us 
to suspect — what is indeed I believe the fact — that we have to do 
with initiation ceremonies of a later and more highly developed 
type, initiation ceremonies not merely tribal and social, whether 

1 ayvbv 5e fiiov reivajv e'£ ov 

Aids 'ldaiov fivaT-qs yev6p.r\v 

Kal vvktlttoXov Zayptws ppovras 

tovs t d)fJ.o<payovs dcuras reXecras 

fiyjTpi t' opdiji SaOas dvacrx^" 

Kai KOvprjTiov 

/36.KXOS iK\-qdy)v batudeis. 
The text is Nauck's, save for the addition of re in line 4 — tovs t u/xo(pa.yovs. The 
translation is by Prof. Murray. With his sanction I have substituted the word 
'enhallowed' for 'I am set free' in stanza two. 


52 The Kouretes, Thunder- Rites and Mana [ch. 

of infancy or adolescence, but ceremonies that have become in the 
later sense mysteries, rites to which only a chosen few were 
admitted. This seems clear from the asceticism of the avowal 
in the last lines. It is obvious that the whole of the initiated 
youth of a tribe would not be vegetarians, nor could they preserve 
life-long ceremonial purity from the contagion of child-birth and 
funerals. Moreover the initiated man in these rites was, when 
fully consecrated, called a Bacchos, and the Bacchoi were always 
a select congregation. Plato 1 tells us that those concerned with 
rites of initiation used to say 

Few are the Bacchoi, many bear the Wand. 

It may be conjectured that the rite here administered by the 
Kouretes was some sort of rite of ordination of a medicine-man. 
In this connection it is interesting to note that Epimenides of 
Crete, the typical medicine-man of antiquity, was called by his 
contemporaries the 'new Koures.' Plutarch 2 in his account of the 
purification of Athens in the days of Solon says of Epimenides 
that he was a man of Phaistos, son of the. nymph Balte, 'beloved 
of the gods/ and ' an adept in religious matters dealing with the 
lore of orgiastic and initiation rites.' It was because of this that 
he was reputed to be son of a nymph and gained his title of 
Koures. Koures, as has already been noted, can only mean Young 
Man in a specialized sense. We may conjecture — though it is only 
a conjecture — that the Kouretes were Young Men selected from 
the general band of initiated youths. One of their functions was, 
it appears, the consecration of the Bacchoi. 

Plutarch naturally regards Epimenides as ' dear to the gods/ 
and an adept in matters religious, but the traditions that gathered 
round his name are those of magic and medicine rather than of 
religion. He is credited 3 indeed, and perhaps rightly, with the 
authorship of a Theogony as well as an Argonautika, a Kretika, 

1 Phaed. 69 C eial yap 8rj <pa<rlv oi vepi ras reXeras vapdyKocpbpoi fiev iroWoi, Bd/cxoi 
5^ Te wavpoc. Olympiodorus ad loc. attributes a hexameter to this effect to Orpheus. 
See my Prolegomena, p. 474. 

2 Vit. Solon, xil. ...t\kb> e/c KprjTrjs ^Tn/jLevidyji 6 3>cu'o"rios — 'E56/cet Se tls elvai 
deocpiXijs Kai <ro</>6s nepi ra deia ttjv ivdovo~iao~TiKT}v Kai TtKeaTiKrjv o~o<piav, 5io koX wcuda 
vvp.<pt]% 6vojj.a BdXrijs Kai Koi'pTjra veov avrbv oi rdre dvdponroi irpo<n}y6pevov. Diogenes 
cites the "Ofioia of Myronianos as authority for the title of Koures: (prjaiv on 
Kovprira aiTov e/cdXow Kp^res. • For the name of the nymph Balte or Blaste see 
Pauly Wissowa, s.v. 

3 Diog. Laert. Vit. Epim. i. 111. 

in] Epimenides as Kouros 53 

Purifications, Sacrifices, and Oracles, and, notable fact, a Birth of 
the Kouretes and Koryhantes ; but when we come to his life and 
acts his true inwardness as a medicine-man emerges. His career 
begins, in orthodox fashion, with a long magical sleep 1 . He was 
tending sheep, and turning aside to rest in the shade of a cave he 
fell asleep ; after fifty-seven years he woke, looked for his sheep, 
met his younger brother, now a grey-haired man, and learnt the 

The long sleep is usually taken as just one of the marvels 
of the life of Epimenides. The real significance lies deeper. The 
cave in which he went to sleep was no chance cave ; it was the 
cave of Diktaean Zeus. The sleep was no chance sleep ; it was 
the sleep of initiation. We gather this from the account left us 
by Maximus of Tyre 3 . He tells us that Epimenides was not only 
a marvellous adept in religious matters, but also that he got his 
skill not by learning, and described a long sleep in which he had 
a dretim for his teacher. The same authority tells us 3 that 
Epimenides said when he was lying at mid-day in the cave of 
Diktaean Zeus a deep sleep of many years befell him, and he met 
with the gods and divine intercourse and Truth and Justice. 

Maximus found this a hard saying (\6<yoi> Tnareveadat 
^aXeirov), but in the light of savage parallels the difficulty 
disappears. Round the figure of Epimenides the new Koures 
are crystallized the ordinary initiation-experiences of a medicine- 
man to-day. Among the tribes of Alice Springs, in Central 
Australia 4 , if a man will become a medicine-man he must sleep, 
and must sleep in a special sacred cave. When he feels a call he 
leaves the camp and goes alone till he comes to the mouth of the 
cave. Here with considerable trepidation he lies down to sleep, 
not venturing to go inside lest he should be spirited away for ever. 
Next morning the Iruntarinia or spirit-people are supposed to 
come, make a hole in his tongue, pierce his head from ear to ear, 
carry him into the depths of the cave and there remove his internal 
organs and provide him with a new set. The hole is actually there 

1 loc. cit. 109. The sources for Epimenides are collected by Diels, Fragmente 
d. Vorsokratiker, n. pp. 489 ff. See also Pauly Wissowa, s.v. 

2 c. 22, p. 224. Diels, Fragmente, n. p. 494 8eii>ds 5£ y\v ravra (rot 6e?a) ov /maduiv, 
d\X' inrvov avrwi dcTjyetro fiaKpov kcli oveipov 5i5a<TKa\ov. 

3 c. 28, p. 286 ...{fxia-qs yap) rj/xkpas kv AiktclLov Albs twi avrpuit Kei/xevos vttvwi 
(Hadei '£tt) avxva 6vap i<pn ivrvx^v avrbs deois koX 6eu>v \6yois Kai 'AXrjOelat Kal AIkvi- 

4 Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes of Central Australia, p. 523. 

54 The Kouretes, Thunder- Rites and Mana [ch. 

when the man emerges from the cave. The rest of course happens 
in the man's dream or trance. Among some peoples 1 the necessary 
initiation-sleep is induced by a sleeping draught. 

The rites we are about to examine are then not rites of simple 
tribal initiation, but rather rites of initiation practised by the 
Kouretes in perhaps a later stage of their development as a 
magical fraternity. The Kouretes are now well on their way 
to become daimones ; they will presently become actual gods 
(6eol), as in Hesiod 2 . Diogenes 3 says that some reported that the 
Kretans ' sacrificed to Epimenides as to a god.' In historical 
times both Crete and Thera had a cult of the Kouretes. The 
colonists of Hierapytna 4 swear not only by a long list of Olympians, 
but by the Kouretes, the Nymphs, and the Korybantes. From 
the mountain village of Hagia Barbaria, on the way to Gortys, has 
come an inscription 5 in which 'Ertaios, son of Amnatos, to the 
Kouretes, guardians of kine, fulfils his word and makes a thank- 
offering.' Much earlier are the rock inscriptions in Thera 6 , *vhere 
the Koures, to whom dedication is made, has his name spelt with 
the ancient Koppa. From medicine-man to god was not, as will 
later be seen, a far cry. 

Before we proceed to examine the rites of the medicine-man, 
the Bacchos, a passage in Diodorus 7 must be examined, which 
bears on the relation between adolescence and ordination rites. 
After a long discussion of Cretan mythology he says 

The Cretans, in alleging that they handed on from Crete to other peoples 
the dues of the gods, their sacrifices, and the rites appertaining to mysteries, 
bring forward this point as being to their thinking the chief piece of evidence. 
The rite of initiation at Eleusis, which is perhaps the most celebrated of all, 
and the rite of Samothrace, among the Cicones, whence came Orpheus, its 
inventor, are all imparted as mysteries ; whereas in Crete, at Knossos. from 

1 Webster, Primitive Secret Societies, p. 174: among the tribes of the Lower Congo. 

2 See supra, p. 25. 3 op. cit. 20. 4 Blass in Collitz-Bechtel, 5039. 

5 'E]/>tguos' A/xv&tov KciprjiTi tois irpb Kapranrodiov (d)pav Kal {xa)pi(cr)T7jlov, de Sanctis, 
Mon. dei Lincei, xvni. (1908), p. 178. For the cult of the Kouretes see Prof. Bosan- 
quet, B.S.A. xv. (1908-1909), p. 351 and H. v. Gaertingen, Inschriften von Priene 
1906, p. 136, no. 186, where an inscribed basis commemorates a certain Apollodorus 
as iep-qrevovra fiaaiKei Kal Kovprjaiv. For the worship of Zeus Kretagenes and the 
Kouretes in Karian towns, see Le Bas, Inschriften, in. 338, 394, 406. 

6 I.G.I.M.A. ni. 354 ff. 

7 v. 77 ...tovto (pipovcriv, ws oiovrai, jxeyiorov TeKp.-qpi.ov ti\v re yap Trap' ' Adrjvaiots 
ev 'EXevfflvi yivop.evT)v Te\err)v, eTrKpaveardrriv ax^bbv ovcrav anaaQv Kal ttjv ev ^,apLodpq.Kr} 
Kal tt)v ev OpaKji ev roh Klkoitiv, bdev 6 KaraSei^as 'Opcpevs rjv, fxvaTiKQs irapablhoadaL, 
Kara de rr)v KpyjTrjv ev M.vwau> vofxiixov e£ apxaiwv elvai. (pavep&s rds reXerds rauras 
wa<n Trapaoiooadai, Kal to. wapa rots dWois ev aTropprjTix) irapabibofxeva 7rap' ourots fjLrjdeva 
Kpinrreiv tu>v fiovKop.tvuv ra roiavra yivdoVKeiv. 

in] Magical Secret Societies 55 

ancient days it was the custom that these rites should be imparted openly to 
all, and things that among other people were communicated in dead secrecy 
(eV aTropprJTco) among the Cretans, they said, no one concealed from anyone 
who wished to know such matters. 

What seems to be behind this rather obscure statement is 
this. Initiation-rites of adolescence, as contrasted with initiation- 
rites of a magical fraternity, are comparatively public and open 1 . 
Every tribesman has a right to be initiated ; nearly every tribes- 
man is initiated and knows the secrets of initiation. A magical 
fraternity on the other hand is always more or less of a secret 
society. The rites of both sets of initiation are closely analogous 2 . 
They centre round the new birth, that is the new set of social 
relations, the new soul, and are figured by real sleep or mimic 
death. The rites of adolescence, and probably what we have 
called mother-rites, are primary, the magical fraternity-rites a 
later development. Crete, the mother of initiation-rites in the 
iEgean, kept the memory of her adolescence-rites and their com- 
parative publicity, but when her initiation-rites passed to Greece 
proper and to Thrace, they had reached the magical fraternity 
stage. They were not only mysteries, but mysterious. 

In the rites described by Euripides we have no mention of a 
new birth, though perhaps this is implied by the new name given, 
' Bacchos.' The candidate has to hold aloft the torches of the 
Mountain Mother, and he has to accomplish two things, the Feasts 
of Raw Flesh and the Thunders of night-wandering Zagreus. 
The torch-light dance or procession upon the mountains (opet- 
{3daia) is sufficiently known from the Bacchae. The Feasts of 
Raw Flesh (a)fjLo<payla) will be later discussed 3 . It is the first- 
named rite, the rite of the Thunders (fipovral), which has long 
been held to be unintelligible, and on which we must now focus 
our attention. It will provide us with material for a sensible 
advance in the understanding of the origins of Greek and any 
other religion. 

1 This has been clearly brought out by M. Levy-Bruhl in his Fonctions Mentales 
dans les Societes Inferieures, p. 417, entirely without reference to the passage of 
Diodorus, ' l'initiatiou des novices en general est iraposee a tous, elle est relativement 

2 Levy-Bruhl, op. cit. p. 417 ' la ressemblance entre les epreuves de l'initiation 
des sorciers ou shamans et celles de l'initiation des novices de la tribu en general 
est frappante.' 

3 Prolegomena, pp. 479 — 497. A full discussion of the tbne<f>ayia will come best 
w ben we reach the question of sacrifice in chapter v. 

56 The Konretes, Thunder- Rites and Mana [ch. 

The Rite of the 'Thunders.' 

k<i\ vvKTirroXov Zaypeeos fipovras 

' Having accomplished the Thunders of night- wandering 
Zagreus.' What are the Thunders, and how can they be 
accomplished ? No answer was forthcoming, so not unnaturally 
scholars proceeded to emend ftpovrds 1 . Following Prof. Gilbert 
Murray's advice I kept the text 2 and waited for further evidence 
as to its interpretation. 

Light came from an unexpected quarter. In investigating 
thunderbolts I was referred to a passage, again, oddly enough, in 
Porphyry. Pythagoras, Porphyry 3 tells us, in the course of his 
journey from Asia Minor to Italy came to Crete. There he met 
on landing some of the Mystae of Morgos, one of the Idaean 
Daktyls, by whom he was initiated into their rites. The first rite 
he underwent at their hands was purification, and this purification 
was effected by — the thunderbolt or thunder-stone. 

A thunder-stone 4 is not so strange an implement of purification 
as it might at first sight appear. Celts or stone-axes over a large 
portion of the civilized world are, by a strange blunder, taken to 
be thunderbolts — weapons shot down by the sky-god. Such 

1 Porphyry (De Abst. iv. 19), who preserves the fragment for us — as a text on 
which to preach vegetarianism — has /3pocTds. The MSS. follow him with the 
exception of the Leipzig MS., which has Pporas. Lobeck (see Nauck, ad loc.) 
suggests (jirovbas, which may be rejected as of impossible violence. Valens reads 
/Sierras, which is feeble in sense. The most plausible suggestion is Diels' /3oi)ras = 
ox-herd. Dieterich (De Hymnis Orphicis, p. 11) accepts (Sovras, holding ppovrds 
to be hopeless: 'perperam traditur fipovras praeclare emeudavit Dielesius.' The 
praeclare is juster than the perperam. Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (Griechische 
Dichterfragmente, p. 77, note 1) follows Diels, intei*preting povras as /3ovk6\os. 
The temptation to adopt fiovTas is severe. In the omophagia a wild bull was 
hunted and eaten ; the bull-forms of Dionysos are familiar, his followers are known 
to have been called /3ou/c6Xot, at Athens we have a ftovKoXehv, and indeed an actual 
(3ovti)s (Butes) worshipped in the Erechtheion. But had the original reading been 
fiovras it is hard to see why the unintelligible ppovrds should have been substituted. 

2 Prolegomena, p. 480, note 1. 

3 Vit. Pyth. 17 KpriTr/s 5' ^7rt/3as rots Mdpyov yuwrrcus ivbs tQv 'Idaiwv &o.ktu\wv, b(p' 
wv Kal eKaddpdi) rrj Kepavviq. \ldu3. 

4 For the superstitions that gather round thunder-stones, and for celts as supposed 
thunder-stones, see H. Martin's La Foudre dans V Ant 'iquite, 1866, and P. Saint Yve's 
Talismans et reliques tombes du ciel, in Revue des Etudes Ethnographiques et 
Sociologiques, 1909, p. 1. See also Sir John Evans, Ancient Stone Implements, 
p. 59, E. B. Tylor, Early History of Man, 2nd edit. p. 226, and Cartailhac, L'dge de 
vierre dans les souvenirs et superstitions populaires. 


The Thunder-Rites 


stones are called to-day by the modern Greek peasant ' lightning- 
axes ' {acrrpcnrekeKia, a shortened form of aaTpairoTreXe/cia 1 ). 
Great is their value as charms against thunder, similia similibus, 
to keep milk sweet, to cure rheumatism and the like. 

The celt reproduced in Fig. 6 is a curious illustration of the 
use of these supposed thunder-stones in 
mysteries. It was found in the Argolid, 
and is now in the Central Museum at 
Athens. The inscription 2 cannot be in- 
terpreted, and is probably of the Abraxas 
order, but it is clear that the scene repre- 
sented has to do with Mithraic mysteries. 
We have the slaying of the holy bull, and, 
below, a figure that looks like a Roman 
soldier bearing a rod surmounted by an 
eagle, is received by a priest : the soldier 
is probably qualifying to become an ' Eagle.' 

Porphyry 3 then goes on to enumerate 
the various ceremonies gone through during 
initiation. Pythagoras had to wear a wreath 

of black wool, to lie face foremost near the sea for a whole night 
and, finally, like Epimenides, to go down into the cave of Idaean 
Zeus, probably a great underground cavern on Mount Dikte. 
There he had to spend thrice nine days, and then at last he was 
allowed to gaze on the throne which year by year was draped for 
Zeus. There was on Dikte a tomb as well as a throne, since 
Porphyry tells us that Pythagoras engraved an inscription on it 
as follows : ' Pythagoras to Zeus ' — and the beginning of what he 
wrote was : 

Here died Zan and lies buried, whom they call Zeus, 

Fig. 6. 

1 Prof. Bosanquet kindly tells me that in Crete stone-axes are specially abundant 
on the mountains. Near Palaikastro many are picked up on the now denuded 

2 This inscription is inaccurately reproduced by Perrot and Chipiez, Grece 
Primitive, vol. vi. p. 119, Fig. 5. The first four letters as given by them are Bd/cx, 
which led me to hope that the word inscribed was Bdicxos, but Mr K. M. Dawkins 
was good enough to examine the actual stone and to send me the inscription 
corrected. The drawing in Fig. 6, with the correct inscription, I owe to the kind- 
ness of Mrs Hugh Stewart. 

3 Loc. cit. supra iwdev fikv wapa 9a\d.TTrj vpijvris iKTadeis, vvKrwp b~k irapa Trora/xcp 
dpveiov iLiAai'os fiaWoh iarfcpaviii/uLii'os. ets 5e to ISatoi/ KaKovfxevov avrpov Kara/3as Zpia 
efxwp ixeXava ras vojxt.Cop.ev as rpis ivvta r]p.ipas tnei dierptxpev Kai Kadriyiaev rip Ad tov 

58 The Kouretes, Thunder- Rites and Mana [ch. 

an inscription which reminds us of another divine being whose 
tomb Zeus took over : 

Here died Pikos and lies buried, who is also Zeus 1 . 

After all these solemnities the final apocalypse of an empty 
throne falls rather fiat. Why is the throne draped if it is to 
remain empty ? Was the throne really empty ? Probably not. 
Zeus in human shape was not seated thereon, otherwise we should 
have been told, but his throne may on certain occasions have been 
tenanted by a symbol as awe-inspiring as, or even more than, 
himself, — his thunderbolt. 

The two coins in Fig. 7 suggest this 2 . The first is from 
Seleukeia Pieria 3 , the date probably early in the first century B.C. 

Silver Tetradrachm of Seleukeia 

Denarius of Antoninus 
Pius. Kev. 

Fig. 7. 

The reverse shows a large thunderbolt with fillet attached, lying 
on a cushion on a throne; the legend is ZEAEVKEQN THZ 
IEPAI KAI AVTONOMOV. The turreted head on the obverse is 
supposed to be the Tyche of Seleukeia. The second coin figured 
is a denarius of Antoninus Pius, and also shows a thunderbolt 
resting on a spread throne. Closely analogous in idea, though 

re aTopvvfievov avrw tear' Htos dpovov idedaaro, €wLypa/J.p.d r ivexdpa^ev eni tQ rd<ptp 
(my pampas 'Tlvdayopas rip Ad,' ov 77 dpxv' T ^2e davuiv Kelrcu Tidv, 6u Aia kik\7j(tkov<ti.v. 

1 Suidas, s.v. HIkos' ivddde /cetrcu davwi>...TL'iKos 6 Kal Zeiis. See p. 109. 

- The coins reproduced are in the possession of Mr A. B. Cook, and will be 
discussed in his forthcoming book on Zeus. He very kindly allows me to anticipate 
their publication. 

3 Cf. Brit. Mus. Cat. Gk. Coins, Syria, pp. 270 f. PI. xxxn. 6 and 8. The 
thunder-cult of Seleukeia Pieria is well known. Appian in his History of Syria 
(c. 56) says of the inhabitants of Seleukeia dpycrKovci ko.1 v/xvoven /cat vvv Kepavvov. 
Keraunos had annually appointed priests, Kfpawocpbpoi, with whom may perhaps be 
compared the \i6o(p6pos, who had a seat in the Dionysiac theatre at Athens. See ( 
my Myth, and Mon. Ancient Athens, p. 274. 


Child and Thunder-stone 


not in style, is a Graeco-Roman relief (Fig. 8), now in the museum 
at Mantua 1 . Here again we have the spread throne, the thunder- 
bolt ; the only additiou is an eagle. 

The thunderbolt was to the primitive Greek not the symbol 
or attribute of the god, but itself the divine thing, the embodi- 
ment and vehicle of the god. As such, long after Zeus had taken 
on full human form in literature, it held its place in cultus, not 
as a weapon in the hand of the human god, but actually occupying 
his throne. This identity of the two is specially manifest in the 

Fig. 8. 

figure of the infant Zagreus. In the terracotta relief from the 
Palazzo Colonna, reproduced in Fig. 3, we have seen three dancing 
Kouretes or Korybantes who clash their shields over the infant 
Zeus. Near him, lying on the ground, is a thunderbolt, his vehicle, 
his equivalent rather than his attribute. 

The human child completely replaces the thunderbolt. On 
the ivory relief 2 from Milan (Fig. 9) the child is seated on the 
throne once held by the thunderbolt. This relief though late 
embodies a primitive form of the myth. It is matriarchal and 
tribal in sentiment. We have the Mother and Child, the Kouretes 
and their correlatives the Satyrs, but the Father is nowhere 

The fact that child and thunder-stone were one and the same 
was deep-rooted in myth as well as ritual. Hesiod 3 knew it, 

3 E. Braun, Kunstmythologie, Taf. 6. 

2 Arch. Zeit. 1846, Taf. 38 ; with this relief may be compared the child on the 
throne in the coin of Magnesia, p. 241. 

3 Hes. Theog. 485 t<j> 5e cnrapyavhacra. fieyav \idov iyyvd\i^et>. 

60 The Kouretes, Thunder- Rites and Mana [ch. 

at least subconsciously. When 
Kronos was about to swallow 
Zeus, what is it that Rhea gives 
him and that he really swallowed ? 
A stone in swaddling clothes. On 
the well-known relief 1 on the 
Capitoline altar Rhea is figured 
with the swaddled stone in her 
hands, offering it to Kronos. 
When the appointed time came 
' that stone which he had swal- 
lowed last he vomited forth first 
and Zeus set it up in goodly 
Pytho as a sign and a marvel 2 .' 
In goodly Pytho it was seen by 
Pausanias 3 ; it was anointed with 
oil day by day, and had a yearly 
festival. It was not till the stone 
was vomited up that the thunder 
and lightning were let loose 4 . 
Long before Zeus was Zeus, 
thunder and lightning were, in a 
sense to be considered presently, 
divine potencies, their vehicle 
was a thunder-stone ; by such a 
thunder-stone was Pythagoras 
purified, on such a thunder-stone 
did he gaze in the Diktaean 

1 Overbeck, Kunstniythologie, Atlas iii. 

2 Hes. Theog. 496 
irp&Tov 5' e^elfieffue \L8oi>, irv^arov kclto.- 

tqv fxkv Zei>s 0"T77pt^e Kara x^ ov ^ s evpv- 

Ili'tfor iv dyadiri yva\ois viro Hapvyjaow 
arjfH tfjiev e^oiriao} 6av/xa dvvrolui. flpo- 


3 X. 24. 7. 

4 See Prof. Gilbert Murray's illumi- 
nating analysis and interpretation of the 
confused Hesiodic account in Anthropology 
and the Classics, p. 86. 

in] The Bull-Roarer 61 

Given then a rite in which the catechumen is purified by a 
thunder-stone and which has for its culmination the probable, if 
not certain, dvaicaXvy\n<; of a thunderbolt on a throne, was it in 
human nature not to heighten the dramatic effect by adding the 
sound of simulated thunder? 

Here again we are not left to conjecture : we have definite 
evidence that in certain mystery-rites thunder was actually 
imitated by bull-voiced mimes, by drums and other apparatus. 
Strabo 1 in his account of the Kouretes mentions that Aeschylus 2 
in the lost Edoni says that the instruments of Kotys were used 
by the Thracians in their orgies of Dionysos. Kotys is but a 
Thraco-Phrygian form of the Mountain Mother to whom the 
Cretan mystic expressly states he held aloft the torches. She was 
variously called Kotys, Bendis, Rhea, Kybele. After describing 
the din made by the ' mountain gear ' of Kotyto, the maddening 
hum of the bombykes, the clash of the bronze cymbals and the 
'wang of strings, Aeschylus goes on ' And ball-voices roar thereto 
from somewhere out of the unseen, fearful semblances, and from 
a drum an image as it were of thunder underground is borne on the 
air heavy with dread.' 

Real thunder cannot be had to order ; mimic thunder can, and 
we know was. Nor is it easy to imagine a more efficient instru- 
ment of €K7r\r}^i<>. We know the very instrument with which 
in ancient days mimic thunder was manufactured, the famous 
Bull-roarer or po/Li/3o9, the sound of whose whirring is mystical, 
awe-inspiring, and truly religious. It is like nothing in the world 
but itself, perhaps the nearest approach is the ominous sound of 
a rising storm-wind or angry imminent thunder. The rhombos is 
carefully described by the scholiast 3 on Clement of Alexandria in 
commenting on the passage quoted above, in which he describes 
'the wholly inhuman mysteries of Dionysos Zagreus.' The 
rhombos, says the scholiast, is 'a bit of wood to which a string 

1 x. 470. 

2 Nauck, Frg. 57 

ravpotpOoyyoi 8' inro/J.VKuivTai 
Trodev e"| dcpavovs <pof3epoi lll/jlol 
Tviravov 8' elKwv iaad' inroyaiov 
ppovrrjs (ptpeTat. j3api>Tapl3r)s. 

3 Ad Clemens Alex. Cohort, p. 5 ' KQvos /cat po/iSos ' ^vXaptov oil ££t}tttcu to 
ffiraprlov ko.1 iv tolls reXerats i8ovei,To 'iva poi^rj. See Lobeck, Aglaoph. p. 700. The 
scholiast professes to explain kQvos but as Mr A. B. Cook kindly pointed out to me 
kuvos is obviously some form of spinning top. Tbe object described as a bit of 
wood with a string through it is obviously a rhombos or Bull-Roarer. The 

62 The Kouretes, Thunder -Rites and Mana [ch. 

is tied, and it is whirled round and round at initiation-rites to 
make a whirring sound.' 

In the mysteries of Zagreus, then, as practised by the Kouretes 
and Idaean Daktyls, the initiated man (1) was purified by a 
thunderbolt, (2) heard mimic thunder, (3) probably beheld a 
thunderbolt on a throne. After these experiences, he may, I think, 
fairly be said to have ' accomplished the Thunders.' 

To elucidate the general principle of man's reaction on the 
outside world, which is the main object of the present chapter, we 
could examine no better instance than the Thunder-Rites. 

The Thunder-Rites of Zagreus occur, it has been seen, in the 
initiation of a Bacchos or medicine-man. It will be remembered 
that among the Wiradthuri they occur during rites of adolescence. 
After what has been said of the analogy between the two this is 
not surprising. When the gist of the Thunder-Rite has been 
once grasped it will be abundantly clear that at any and every 
ceremony of initiation a Thunder-Rite is appropriate. 

What purpose do they serve ? What is their religious function ? 

The Greeks, says a Christian Father, worship (depcnrevovai) 
the thunderbolt. The statement causes us something of a shock. 
The Greeks of classical days regarded the thunderbolt as the 
weapon of Zeus the Sky-God, as his attribute, but assuredly they 
did not regard the thunder as itself a full-blown personal god 1 . 
Nor does the Christian Father say they did. All he states is that 
they ' worshipped ' the thunderbolt, that is, had a cult of it, tended 
it, attended to it, made it the object of ' religious ' care. 

Religion has been defined as ' l'ensemble des pratiques qui 
concernent les choses sacrees'; so far as it goes the definition is 
excellent, but it only pushes the difficulty a step further back. 

bibliography of the Bull-Roarer is fully given by Dr Frazer, Golden Bough-, 
vol. in. note 1. The first to draw attention to the importance of the savage Bull- 
Roarer in connection with Greek initiation-rites was Mr Andrew Lang, Custom and 
Myth, 188-1, pp. 39 — 41, 51 — 55. To the authorities here given must now be added 
the valuable papers by Mr R. R. Marett, Savage Supreme Beings and the Bull- 
Roarer in Hibbert Journal, Jan. 1910, and M. van Gennep, Mythes et Legendes 
d'Australie, Introduction, pp. lxviii ff. 

1 In imperial days a personal Keraunos was made the object of a definite cult 
in our sense. In remote Arcadia Pausanias notes (vni. 29. 1) that on the Alpheios 
they offered sacrifice to Lightnings, Storms and Thunders (dvovaiv 'Aarpawais kcli 
GuAXats nai Bpovrafc). Appian (Syr. 58) writes <paai 5e avri2 (Seleukos Nikator) 
rds 2e\eweias oiKifovTi ttjv /J.ev eiri rfj daKdaari 5iocrr]fjiiav rjyrjcraaOai Kepavvov Kai dia 
touto dtbv oltois Kepavyov edero, Kai OprjcrKevovcn Kai vfivovai Kai vxiv Kepavvdp. 

in] Sanctity is j^e-theological 63 

The cardinal question remains, what do we mean by the word 
sacred 1 ? 

In bygone days the answer would have been prompt and 
simple, the thunderbolt is sacred because it belonged to a god. 
The god is presupposed and from him comes the sanctity. We 
now know, from a study of the customs and representations of 
primitive peoples, that, broadly speaking, the reverse is true, a 
thing is regarded as sacred, and out of that sanctity, given certain 
conditions, emerges a daimon and ultimately a god. Le sacre, 
c'est le pere du dieu. This comes out very clearly in the attitude 
of the Wiradthuri towards the Bull-Roarer. 

Before initiation no boy may behold a Bull-Roarer. He and 
the women hear from a distance the awful unearthly whirring 
sound. At the moment of initiation the novices are closely 
covered with blankets and the fearsome din breaks upon them in 
complete darkness. The roaring, boys and women are told, 
represents the muttering of thunder, and the thunder — this is the 
important point — is the voice of Dhuramoolan. 'Thunder,' said 
Umbara headman of the Yuin tribe 2 , 'is the voice of Him (and 
he pointed upwards to the sky) calling on the rain to fall and 
everything to grow up new.' 

Now here we have the Bull-Roarer explained, for the edifica- 
tion of the women and children, as a more or less anthropomorphic 
being, a kind of Sky-God ; but note this important point. When 
the bo} r is actually initiated the central mystery takes the form of 
a revelation {airoK(i\vy\n<i) of the Bull-Roarer, the boy sees and 
handles it, and learns to twirl it ; it is not, he finds, the voice of 
Dhuramoolan the Sky-God, it is a Bull-Roarer. Women and 
children must be told the myth of Dhuramoolan, but the grown 
man has done with theology. Now we should expect that with 
the god will go the sanctity. Not at all ; the sanctity did not 
arise from the god, and it survives him. Wherein resides the 
sanctity ? 

The sanctity of the Bull-Roarer and of all sacred things will 
be found I think at the outset to contain two factors, the sense 

1 E. Durkheim, Definition des phi 'nomenes religieux, p. 17, in Annee Sociologique, 
ii. (1898). 

2 Here and throughout my discussion of the Bull-Roarer I am much indebted 
to Mr R. R. Marett's Savage Supreme Beings and the Bull-Roarer, Hibbert Journal, 
Jan. 1910. 

64 The Kouretes, Thunder- Rites and Mana [oh* 

of fear or perhaps it would be better called awe, and the sense of 
force, power, effectiveness. The awesomeness of the Bull-Roarer 
is known to all who have heard it ; it possesses in a high degree 
the quality of uncanniness. Heard in the open sunlight it sends 
a shudder through even modern nerves; on temperaments more 
primitive, more excitable, more suggestible, heard in the darkness 
of the rites of 'night-haunting Zagreus ' its effect might well be 
one of frenzy 1 . 

' The feare of things invisible is the naturall seed of Religion/ 
said Hobbes, and he spoke truly, but his statement requires some 
modification or rather amplification. It is not the fear of the 
individual savage that begets religion, it is fear felt together, fear 
emphasized, qualified, by a sort of social sanction. Moreover fear 
does not quite express the emotion felt. It is rather awe, and awe 
contains in it the element of wonder as well as fear 2 ; awe is on the 
way to be reverence, and reverence is essentially religious. It is 
remote entirely from mere blind panic, it is of the nature of 
-^attraction rather than repulsion. The Point Barrow natives 3 are 
afraid of the Aurora Borealis, they think it may strike them in 
the back of the neck. So they brandish knives and throw filth to 
drive it away. It is a little difficult to call the act religious. The 
famous Primus in orbe deos fecit timor of Lucretius is the truth, 
'but not the whole truth. Moreover the fear which has gone to 
the making of religion is at least as much social as physical 4 . 

This brings us to the second factor in sanctity, the factor 
which I think differentiates awe from mere fear, the recognition 
of force, power, effectiveness. This comes out very clearly in the 
case of the Bull-Roarer. The Bull-Roarer has of course in itself 
no power, but its roaring is like the roaring of thunder, and to this 
day a Bull-Roarer is called in Scotland a ' thunner spell.' Because 
the Bull-Roarer makes the sound of thunder, has the same quality 

1 j£sch. Frg. Edoni, Nauck, Frg. 57 iiavlas iwayuybv 6/j.ox\dv. 

2 As to the individual psychology of religion I follow mainly Mr W. McDougall, 
An Introduction to Social Psychology; see especially the excellent chapter (xin.) on 
The Instinctive Bases of Religion. 

3 Marett, Threshold of Religion, p. 15, from Murdoch, Point Barrow Expedition, 
p. 432. 

4 For this religion of fear and wonder Mr Marett (op. cit. p. 13) suggests the 
name teratism, which would be excellent but that it leaves no place for the gentler 
forces of fertility. 

m] The Thunderstorm and the Bull-Roarer 65 

as thunder, that is, psychologically produces the same reactions, it (l 
is thunder. 

To us a thunderstorm is mainly a thing of terror, a thing to 
be avoided, a thing ' not to go out in.' We get abundant and 
superabundant rain without thunderstorms. But an occasional 
drought broken up by thunderstorms helps us to realize what 
thunder and the Bull-Roarer which makes thunder mean to the 
Central Australian, where 'a thunderstorm causes the desert to 
blossom as a rose truly as if by magic 1 .' The thuuder, as the 
headman said, ' caused the rain to fall and everything to grow up 
new.' Now we realize its virtue in the adolescence rite ; it gives 
the boys 'more power,'*they not only grow up, but grow up new. 
The Bull-Roarer is as it were the rite incarnate. The Bull-Roarer 
is the vehicle not of a god or even of a spirit, but of unformulated 
uncanny force, what Mr Lang 2 calls a ' Powerful Awful.' 

The awful, the uncanny, the unknown, is within man rather 
than without. In all excited states, whatever be the stimulant, 
whether of sex or intoxication, or vehement motion as in dancing, 
man is conscious of a potency beyond himself, yet within himself, 
he feels himself possessed, not by a personal god — he is not yet 
evdeos — but by an exalted power. The power within him he does 
not, cannot, at first clearly distinguish from the power without, 
and the fusion and confusion is naturally helped when the emotion 
is felt collectively in the group. This fusion of internal will and 
energy with external power 3 is of the very essence of the notion of 
sanctity and is admirably seen in the Bull-Roarer. The initiated 
boy when taught to twirl the Bull-Roarer feels himself actually 
making the Thunder, his will and energy and action conspire 
with its uncanny potency. There is no clear severance ; he is 
conscious of control, he can alter the pace and thereby the 
weird sounds, he is a Thunder-maker and we are landed straight 
into Magic. 

1 Mr B. R. Marett, op. cit. p. 406, and Howitt, The Native Tribes of South-East 
Australia, 1904, p. 538. 

2 See Preanimistic Religion, The Contemporary Review, 1909, p. 589. Mr Lang 
denies a pre-Animistic stage of religion. The case for pre-Animism is well stated 
by Mr E. Clodd in his Pre-Animistic Stages in Religion, a paper read before the 
Third International Congress for the History of Religions at Oxford, 1908. 

a It will be seen in chapter v., when we come to discuss totemism and sacrifice, 
that primitive man's lack of power to draw intellectual distinctions lies at the back 
of many religious phenomena. 

66 The Kouretes, Thunder-Rites and Mana [oh. 

But before examining Magic it is interesting to note that this 
, nfthP 'sacred' which we have resolved into the fearful and 
CS£ ve : have seen to be the result of man's .notion 
t jeetd inio external nature, is wide-spread among J— 
Loples and has given rise to an instructive terminology. It * 
Sed in examinSg this terminology that we best seize and h 

~ i. ~? tKo ' snored We nave so tai iocuseu 

the Protean shape ot the saraeu. < jilnmi- 

attention on the Bull-Koarer because it is a singularly ilium 
TatiTistance „f sanctity, and of a sanctity actually observable 
" Gi'ece b„t we must now extend the field of vision to a more 
comprehensive sanctity as expressed in savage languages. Almos 
ah savages have some word by which they express a force or 
power wUch seems to them uncanny, something which arr ts 
Their attention and rouses in them a feeling of awe. One or two 
of these words will repay a closer investigation. 

We betrin with the word orenda' in use among the Iroquois of 

*\e b eP a " 11 seems least mysterious, 

North America, which m some , ^ 

ToTthtgfaTmrr -tonality, yet remaining impersonah 

1S m you to feel and no Ore/ido ]s 

the medicine-man learns ft. secrete ot ^ 

nowise confined to man £££„*>«** is preparing its 
action. When a stoim is brewing ^ 

"trJZZZ r::: of mln it pJed against the 

::i h f t ^ —£-£•£ n-j ss 

is pitted against that of another £ ^^ ( 

. E. S. Hartland, Presidential AMress to ^^f^TZnloX^ 
Association, York, 1906, p. 5, quoting J. N. B. tie 
N.S. iv. p- 38. 

in] Orenda and Mana 67 

cigala does it by chirping, by uttering his orenda. Generally 
orenda seems to be good, but if a man has died from witchcraft, 
' an evil orenda has struck him.' 

The mana 1 of the Melanesians is very like orenda, but seems 
to be somewhat more specialized 2 . All men do not possess 
mana, though it seems mainly to originate in personal human 
beings. Spirits and ghosts are apt to possess mana, but all ghosts 
do not possess it, only ghosts that are specially potent, Tindalos. 
The word mana is adjective as well as substantive, it is indeed 
very adjectival in its nature, qualities seem almost like specialized 
forms of mana 3 . A man's social position depends mainly on the 
amount of mana he lias, either naturally or by virtue 4 of cere- 
monies of initiation. All this sounds rather abstract, yet on the 
other hand mana has a certain fluid substantiveness. It can be 
communicated from stone to stone. Asked to describe mana one 
savage will say it is ' heavy,' another that it is ' hot,' a third that 
it is ' strange, uncommon.' A man finds a queer looking stone, 
puts it near his yams or in his pig-sty, pigs and yams prosper, 
clearly the stone had mana for pigs and yams. Sometimes it 
seems to stand for mere vague greatness. In Mangarevan any 
number over forty is mana mana mana, aptly rendered by 
Mr Marett 5 as an 'awful' lot. Here we have the unknown 
bordering on the supernatural, though as has been well remarked 
nothing to the savage is so natural as the ' supernatural.' Perhaps 
the term super-usual would be safer as having no connotation of 
' natural law.' 

This vague force in man and in almost everything is constantly 
trembling on the verge of personality. The medicine-men of the 
Australian Dieri 6 are Kutchi ; when one of the Dieri sees a circling 
dust-storm near the camp great is his terror, for there is Kutchi. 
He hurls his boomerang and kills Kutchi and flies for terror after- 
wards. ' Kutchi growl along a me, by and by me tumble down.' 

1 Codrington, The Melanesians, 1891, pp. 118—120 and p. 192. 

2 Any attempt to distinguish between the mana, orenda and the like is evidently 
precarious, since we are liable to be misled by the emphasis on special usages of 
the word as noted by particular observers. 

3 W. R. Halliday, The Force of Initiative in Magical Conflict, in Folk-Lore xxi. 
(1910), p. 148. 

4 Miss Hope Mirrlees calls my attention to Chaucer's use of the word vertu, with 
meanings closely analogous to those of mana and almost as various. 

5 Threshold of Religion, p. 122. 

6 Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 446. 


68 The Kouretes, Thunder-Rites and Mana [en. 

Here is a self-projected terror on the way to become a god. Ye* 
, «"»ot even though we supply him with a capital letter and a 
lersTal pronoun, eafl Kutchi really a god; KutcM > a general 
TermT the ' superosual' So the Kaffir unkulunkulu is translated 
as the old, old one' or 'the great, great one" and the heart 
ol the orthodox anthropologist leaps up to meet a primitive 
personal god, an All-Father, 'Savage Supreme Being , yet 
!ve are assured by those most at home in the language and 
Thought of the Kaffirs that unkuluMu in its native form .mphe* 

"° Cltge, hke the chi.d, passes from the particular to the 
2 eneral- the mature and civilized mind well supplied with ready- 
lade abstractions is apt to start from generalities To the ravage 
this stone or tree or yam has mana or arenda, that is what 
concerns him; but gradually,_and this is another high road to 
Zersonafon-from the multitude of things that have mana 
here arises the notion of a sort of cmtinuum of «, a world 
unseen power lying behind the visible universe, a world which is 
The sphere, as will be seen, of magical activity and the medium of 
mysticism The mystical element, the oneness and contmuousness 
Tomes out very clearly in the notion ef Wa-kon'-da among the 
Sim,* Indians This con*—, rather felt than formulated, is 
perhaps primitive man's first effort at generalization'. 

The conception of Wa-W-da has been so ««**{*-£* 
and the rites connected with it recorded in detail by Miss Alice 
F etcher during thirty years' residence among the Omaha Indian^ 
that it will be best briefiy to resume her account. The *-" 
rites and beliefs are specially instructive to us becaus thunder 
from the sanctity of which our enquiry began is one of the most 
usual and significant manifestations of Wa W-da. The Omahas 
Lard all animate and inanimate forms, all phenomena as pervad d 
bv°a common life, which was continuous and similar to the will- 
p we They were' conscious of in themselves. This mysterious 
power in all things they called Wa-ko»'-da, and ^H 
things were related to man, and to each other. In the idea of the 
continuity of life, a relation was maintained between the seen 

, „ d „es no. toUo. that*. ""^^M&^f S^ToTe 

in] Wa-kon'-da 69 

and the unseen, the dead and the living, and also between the 
fragment of anything and its entirety 1 .' 

Any man may at any time seek to obtain Wa-ko/i'-da by the 
'rite of the vision.' He will go out alone, will fast, chant incanta- 
tions, seek to fall into a trance, till finally he sees some object, 
a feather, a tuft of hair, a small black stone — the symbol of thunder, 
or a pebble which represents water. This object henceforward he 
will cany about with him. To him it is henceforth, not an object 
of worship, but a sort of credential, a pledge, a fragment as it 
were of Wa-kow'-da, connecting him with the whole power 
represented by whatever form appeared to him in his vision. 
Certain religious societies were based on these visions. The 
men to whom a bear had appeared formed the Bear society, 
those to whom the black stone appeared became the Thunder 

Miss Fletcher constantly insists that Wa-kon'-da is not a person. 
Yet Wakon'-da is very human ; it can pity, man can appeal to it, 
adjure its help. Wa-kow'-da is invisible. ' No man,' said the 
tribal elder, ' has ever seen Wa-kow'-da.' Perhaps the nearest we 
can get to understanding Wa-kon'-da is to think of it as life — 
invisible life — too all-pervading ever to be personal. This comes 
out very clearly in the initiation-rites of the Omaha. It has 
already been noted that in examining religious facts we have to 
take account not only of man's reactions to aud relations with his 
fellow-men, but also of his reactions to and relations with the 
non-human world, the external universe. It is to induce and safe- 
guard these relations that the Omaha initiations to be now 
considered are largely devised. 

The first initiation takes place on the fourth day after birth. 
Before it takes place the child is regarded as part of its mother, it 
has no separate existence, no personal name. The rite is one of 
introduction to the cosmos. To the sun and moon, the thunder 
and the clouds, the hills, the earth, the beasts, the water, the 

1 A. C. Fletcher, The Significance of the Scalp-Lock, Journal of Anthropological 
Studies, xxvii. (1897-8), p. 436. It is Miss Fletcher's admirable practice to have 
her accounts of ritual, etc., retranslated into Omaha and to submit them for 
criticism to some elder among the natives ; the danger of misconception is thereby 

70 The Kouretes, Thunder- Rites and Mana [ch. 

formal announcement is made that a new life is among them ; they 
are asked, or rather adjured, to accept and cherish it. The refrain 
after each clause comes : 

Consent ye, consent ye all, I implore. 

The second rite comes when the child is between two and 
three years old. It is specially significant in relation to the 
notion of Wa-kow'-da. When the child first speaks, first walks, it 
is regarded as a manifestation of life, of Wa-ko?i'-da. The speaking 
and walking are in fact called Wa-kon'-da. It is only these first 
manifestations that are so called. If later a child falls sick 
and gets better the restored life is never called Wa-korc'-da. 
This second ceremony differs from the first in that it is also 
an initiation into the tribe. It takes place ' after the first 
thunder in the spring-time, when the grass is well up and the 
birds singing.' 

The only ritual necessary for the child, boy or girl, is a pair 
of new moccasins, now to be worn for the first time. Great sanctity 
attaches to these moccasins, they cannot be given away or ex- 
changed. The mother comes with her child to the sacred hut set 
up for the purpose, but the child must enter it alone, bearing his 
moccasins. Then follow six incantations, each ending with a roll 
of mimic thunder in a minor key. During the first song powers 
are invoked to come from the four cardinal points. During the 
second song a tuft of hair is shorn from the crown of the child's 
head and laid by the priest in a sacred case : but as we learn from 
the words of the song addressed to the Thunder as Grandfather, 
the lock and with it the life of the child pass into the keeping 
of the Thunder : 

Grandfather ! there far above, on high, 

The hair like a shadow dark flashes before you. 

In the third song it is proclaimed that the power of death as | 
well as life lies with Wa-ko?i'-da : 

What time I will, then only then, 

A man lies dead a gruesome thing, 

What time I will, then, suddenly, 

A man lies dead a gruesome thing. 

(The Thunder rolls.) 

m] Omaha Initiation-Rites 71 

The fourth song accompanies the putting on of the moccasins ; 
its gist is : 

In this place has the truth been declared to you, 
Now therefore arise ! go forth in its strength. 

So far the main element of the rite is consecration to the 
thunder-god, the supreme Wa-kon'-da. Next comes a ceremony 
the gist of which, like the earlier ceremony, is to naturalize the 
child in the universe. Boys only are consecrated to the thunder- 
spirit, who is also the war-spirit ; but the next ceremony is open to 
girls. It is called Dhi-ku-wm-he, ' Turning the child.' The priest 
takes the child to the east of the fire in the hut, then lifting it by 
the shoulders carries it to the south, lets its feet rest on a stone or 
buffalo skull, a sort of omphalos placed there for the purpose. 
There the priest turns the child completely round, then carries it 
to the west, the north, the east again, turning it upon the stone at 
each point while the fifth song is sung : 

Turned by the winds goes the one I send yonder, 

Yonder he goes who is whirled by the wind, 

Goes where the four hills of life and the four winds are standing, 

There in the midst of the winds do I send him, 

Into the midst of the winds, standing there. 

(The Thimder rolls.) 

The stone and grass laid on it and the buffalo skull stand for 
earth ; the four hills are the four stages of life. Up till now the 
child bore its cradle name. It now takes its ni-ki-e name which 
relates it to its gens. After the turning of the child its ni-ki-e 
name is announced by the priest with a kind of primitive Benedicite 
omnia opera : 

Ye hills, grass, trees— ye creeping things both great and small — I bid you 
hear ! This child has thrown away its cradle name. Hi-e. 

The ceremony ends with a fire invocation. The priest picks 
up the bunches of grass, dashes them to the ground, where they 
burst into flames, and as the flames light up the sacred lodge 
the child is dismissed, while the priest sings : 

O hot red fire hasten, 

O haste ye flames to come, 

Come speedily to help me. 

The whole gist of this 'Turning ceremony' is the placing of 
the child 'in the midst of those elements that bring life, health, 

72 The Kouretes, Thunder- Rites and Mana [ch. 

fruitfulness, success, in a word Wa-kcm'-da. Very early in life the 
child has ' accomplished the Thunders.' 

An examination of the words orenda, mana and Wa-kow'-da 
has helped us to realize what is meant by the word 'sacred' and 
also in what sense it is possible to ' worship' or rather to 'attend 
to' the thunder without any presupposition of a personal thunder- 
god. It remains to ask — Is this notion of 'sacred' as something 
charged with force and fear confined to primitive terminology or 
does it survive in the speech of civilized peoples ? The Sanscrit 
word Brahman 1 means to us a holy man of high caste, but if we 
go back to Vedic texts we find that brdhman in the neuter means 
' charm, rite, formulary, prayer.' The caste of the Brahmans is 
nothing but the men who have brahman, and this is the force, the 
inside power, by which both men and gods act. Certain texts 
further define brdhman as the substance, the heart, the great 
essence of things (pratyantam), that which is most inward. This 
essence of things is the god Brahma. In a word the brdhman of 
ritual, the power or efficacity felt by the worshipper is transformed 
by the Hindu, if he is a theologian, into a god, if he is a philo- 
sopher, into a metaphysical entity. The mystic by the practice of 
yoga, union, becomes brdhman and has thereby attained a magical 

Where the Indian loses himself in metaphysics, the Greek, 

being an artist, delights himself with an agalma, the image, the 

imagination of a personal god. Bat he too starts from Wa-ko?i'-da 

of the crudest kind, from strength and force. Hesiod 2 in his 

conscious self is thoroughly orthodox, his theology is emphatically 

and even noisily Olympian. Zeus is to him human-shaped, Father 

of gods and men, Zeus who knoweth imperishable counsels. But 

the theology of Hesiod 3 is all confused and tangled with the 

flotsam and jetsam of earlier ages, weltering up unawares from 

subconscious depths : 

Styx, Ocean's daughter did with Pallas wed ; 

Zelos, fair-ankled Nike did she bear 

Within his halls, and next the glorious twain, 

1 See Hubert et Mauss, Theorie generate de la Magie, in Annee Sociologique, 
vii. (1902-3), p. 117. 

2 For the Kparos re /3la re of Hesiod see Professor Gilbert Murray's illuminating 
account in Anthropology and the Classics, p. 74. 

3 Theog. 383. 

in] Kratos and Bia 73 

Power and Force. Not any house of Zeus 

Is reft of them, nor seat. When he goes forth 

They follow, hard behind, and by the throne 

Of Zeus, Loud-thunderer, stablish they their seat. 

Kratos and Bia, Power and Force, are shadow-figures in a 
mature, flesh and blood theology. They affect us as strange or 
superfluous. Once more they meet us in the Prometheus Bound, 
and, though now completely humanized, they strike the same 
strange chill. Hesiod, we are told, abounds in ' abstractions,' 
' personifications ' of qualities. Rather his verse is full of reminis- 
cences, resurgences of early pre-anthropomorphic faith ; he is 
haunted by the spirits of ghostly mana and orenda and Wa-ko/t'-da 
and brahman. Styx, Cold Shudder, Petrifaction, is married to 
Pallas, who, as we shall later 1 find, began life as a thunderbolt. 
Cold Shudder, Fear of the Uncanny, almost Tabu, brings forth 
Eager Effort (ZrfKos) and Achievement ; Dominance (Nike), 
and Power and Force are added to the strange phantom crew. 
We seem to have the confused, half forgotten psychology of a 

In this connection it is interesting to note that Kratos, Force, 
is sometimes almost specialized iuto thunder. It is the strength 
of Zeus. The process of specialization can be watched. When in 
the Oedipus Rex 2 the chorus adjures Zeus to blast the Plague-God 
they pray, ' O Thou who wieldest the forces (/cpdrr)) of the fire- 
bearing Lightnings, Father Zeus.' In the later writer, Cornutus 3 , 
Kratos is used as the actual equivalent of the thunderbolt: 'and 
the Kratos which he holds in his right hand.' 

In the first two chapters we established as a main element in 
religion collective emotion, man's reaction on his fellow-man. In 
the present chapter we have dwelt chiefly on man's reaction to 
the universe. We have seen his emotion extend itself, project 
itself into natural phenomena, and noted how this projection 

1 p. 87. 

2 V. 200 CU TO.V TTlipcp6pU}V 

affTpairav Kpa.Tr] vep.wv, 

<1 Zed Trarep, virb aip (pdlaov Ktpavvip. 

3 Cornut. 10. 13 t6 5e Kpdros 8 iv 5e£i£ x«P' Kcn^x"- I am indebted for this 
reference to Dr TJsener's Keraunos in Rhein. Mus. lx. (1905), p. 12. 

74 The Kouretes, Thunder- Rites mid Mana [ch. in 

begets in him such conceptions as mana, orenda, Wa-ko?i'-da, 
Kratos and Bia. We now pass to man's attempt, at first collec- 
tive, then individual, to control these forces, to what we might 
conveniently call the manipulation of mana 1 , or, to use current 
phraseology, we pass to the consideration of magic and its negative 
social counterpart tabu. 

1 I have adopted mana rather than Wa-kow'-da as a general term for impersonal 
force because it is already current and also because its content is perhaps somewhat 
less specialized and mystical. 



eyAdJMooN tc ka) oABioc 6c taA€ n^NTA 
eiAcoc epr^zHTAi ana(tioc aGanatoicin, 
GpNlGAC KpfNCON kai Y ne pBAcfAC AAeefNCON. 

(a) Magic and Tabu. 

The word fiajeia from which our word magic is derived, 
was, among the Greeks of classical days, never really at home. 
Plato 1 on the one occasion that he uses it thinks it necessary 
to add a definition, and this definition, we shall see, is highly 
significant. In the first dialogue that bears the name of 
Alcibiades Socrates is urging on Alcibiades to an exceptionally 
high standard of conduct and education. Such a standard is best 
(he says) exemplified by the training of the Spartan and Persian 
kings. ' When the young prince is fourteen years old he is given 
into the charge of certain persons who are called the " Royal 
paedagogues." These are four Persians in the flower of their age 
who are selected as being reputed foremost in certain virtues : one 
is the wisest, one the most just, one the most prudent, one the 
bravest. Of these the one who is wisest teaches the magic 
(fiayetav) of Zoroaster the son of Horomazos ' ; and then to our 
surprise Socrates adds by way of explanation, ' the art of the I 
magician is the service {depaireia) of the gods. The same man 
gives instruction in kingly duties' (ra fiaaCKuca). 

1 Or the author of the Alcibiades, 122 b wv 6 nev (6 (to^tcitos) fiaydav re 
SiddaKei tt)v ZwpodiTTpov toD 'iipofid^ov Icrrt 5e rovro OeGiv depaireia • SiddffKei 5e nal ra 

76 Magic [ch. 

' Mageia ' is the service of the gods, and the same man who 
teaches ' mageia' teaches kingly duties. No statement could well be 
more contrary to current feeling about magic. We associate magic 
rather with demons than with gods, and we picture it as practised 
by ignorant old women, hole and corner charlatans, or lovers 
insane through passion. We know that certain 'magical practices' 
survived among the Greeks, but when asked for instances we do 
not call to mind kings and potentates, we think of Phaedra's old 
nurse in the Hijjpolytus, of Simaetha desolate and desperate, of 
Thessalian witches dragging down the moon, of things and people 
outside the pale, at war with the powers that be, whether of earth 
[or heaven. Yet in primitive days in Greece, as in Persia, magic 
I had to do, if not with divinities {deoi), yet at least with things 
divine, with sanctities (to dela), and not less certainly a knowledge 
of magic was assuredly part of the necessary equipment of a king 
(tu /3a<ri\itcd). The king as magician will be considered in the 
next section. For the present we have to deal with the manipu- 
lation of sanctities by the tribe or by its representative, the 
medicine-man. We shall find that the attitude towards mana 
is a two-fold one, the positive attitude which is magic, the nega- 
tive which is tabu 1 . 

The design in Fig. 10 is from the fragment of a ' Dipylon ' 
amphora 2 found in the excavations on the site of the Kynosarges 
gymnasium on the left bank of the Ilissos below the spring of 
Kallirrhoe. Most of the vases found in the ' Dipylon ' tombs on 
this site were claimed by the owner of the land and are now 
inaccessible, but by great good fortune this fragment fell to the 
excavators, and is now preserved in the British School at 

Happily the class of vases known from the first place of their 
finding as ' Dipylon ' can be dated within narrow limits. Their 
ornamentation is characteristically geometric, and they belong to 
a period extending from circ. 900 — 700 B.C. Our fragment is a 

1 Mr Marett, Threshold of Religion, p. 114, prefers to call tabu a negative mana. 

2 J. P. Droop, 'Dipylon vases from the Kynosarges site,' B.S.A. xn. (1905-6), 
p. 81, Figs. 1 and 2. The fragment has been discussed by M. Tb. Reinach, 
Itanos et VInventio Scuti, Eevue de l'Histoire des Religions, lx. (1909), p. 324, 
in relation to the shield and thunder-ceremonies, but not, I think, quite rightly 



Magical Rain-making 


specimen of somewhat advanced style 1 , and we may safely place 
it at about 800—700 B.C. 

The centre of the design is occupied by a rectangular table or 
altar; on it is a large indented Mycenaean shield, apparently 
made of some sort of wicker-work. To the right is a seated man 
holding in either hand an implement 2 for which hitherto archaeo- 
logists have found no name. From the implement in the man's 
right hand comes a zigzag pattern. A similar pattern also seems 
to issue from his right thigh. It is probable that to the left of 
the table or altar another man was seated, as the remains of a 
latticed seat are clearly visible, and also the remains of a 
zigzag pattern corresponding to that issuing from the topmost 

Fig. 10. 

It has been conjectured that the man is 'worshipping' the 
shield. The shield is undoubtedly sacred, its prominent position 
on the altar shows that, and it confers sanctity on the place where 
it is set up. Its full significance will be shown later. But the 
man is not ' worshipping ' it. If he were, common reverence would 
demand that he should stand up, and somehow salute the object 

1 For the chronology of Dipylon vases see F. Poulsen, Die Dipylon-Grdber mid 
die Dipylonvasen, Leipzig, 1905, and S. Wide, Geometrische Vasen, Jahrb. d. Arch. 
Inst. xii. (1897), 195. Our fragment is placed by Mr Droop in Dr Wide's Class II (a). 

2 There is a crack in the vase between the two hands, but Mr Woodward of the 
British School, who has kindly re-examined the original of the fragment for me, 
thinks it improbable that the two objects formed one implement. 




of his worship. But here he is complacently seated, manipulating 
the odd implements in his hands. Odd to us they are, and no 
classical archaeologist offered any explanation; but to an anthropo- 
logist 1 skilled in the knowledge of savage gear they are thrice 
familiar. They are primitive musical instruments, part of the 
normal equipment of the medicine-man. They are gourd-rattles. 
A glance at the series of gourd-rattles in Fig. 11 brings 
immediate conviction. To the right (a) is a natural pear-shaped 
gourd from W. Africa, simply dried with the seeds inside acting as 
pellets. The middle design (b) is from a gourd pierced through 

(c) Pottery-rattle, 
of Arizona. 

Moki (b) Gourd-rattle with 

stick. Zuni of New Mexico. 

Fig. 11. 

(a) Natural Gourd-rattle. 
W. Africa. 

with a wooden handle. It is from the Zuni tribe in New Mexico. 
In the third design (c) the rattle has been copied in pottery, the 
protuberance at the top being copied from the stick handle in the 

1 I sent a photograph of the Dipylon fragment to Mr Balfour at the Pitt Rivers 
Museum, Oxford, asking if he could explain the implements, and he at once wrote, 
'I think they must be a pair of hollow rattles, perhaps of gourd, a very common 
form over the world, and one surviving in modern Sudan.' I publish drawings of 
the three instances in Fig. 11 by his kind permission. Mr K. W. Halliday kindly 
tells me that in the Anthropological Museum at Berlin are a number of these ritual 
rattles, some gourds, some made of wood, some double, some and more frecpuently 

iv] Salmoneus the Weather-king 79 

conservative fashion usual in the making of such implements. 
This third example is from the Moki tribe in Arizona 1 . 

Our babies still play with rattles ; our priests no longer use 
them in their ritual, and it surprises us a little to see a grown 
man ceremonially seated before an altar enthusiastically working 
two rattles. Why does he work them ? Not, as might be thought, 
to make thunder ; they are not Bull-Roarers. The shake of an 
actual gourd-rattle tells us instantly what the man is doing. The 
soft plash is unmistakable. He is making rain; making it in the 
simplest yet most magical fashion. The raiu may come accom- 
panied by thunder and lightning. A zigzag of lightning comes 
from the topmost rattle 2 and from the man's thigh, but what he is 
actually making is rain — you can hear it falling. 

Our medicine-man's method of rain-making is simple and 
handy — just a pair of rattles. We know of another rain-maker — 
this time a king — whose apparatus was more complex. ' Salmoneus,' 
Apollodorus tells us, ' said that he himself was Zeus, and he took 
away from Zeus his sacrifices and ordered men to sacrifice to him.' 
Of course he did nothing of the sort : there was no Zeus, there 
were no sacrifices. What he really did, Apollodorus 3 tells us in 
the next sentence, he made the weather : ' he fastened bronze 
cauldrons by straps of hide to his chariot and dragged them after 
him and said that he was thundering, and threw up blazing torches 
into the sky and said that he was lightening.' 

Orthodox theology by the mouth of Vergil 4 proclaims Salmoneus 
a half mad criminal, a blasphemous king who counterfeits the 

1 In Arizona magical rain-making still goes on. By the kindness of Miss H. E. 
Allen, of Bryn Mawr College, I am possessed of a pottery figure of a rain-maker. He 
holds in front of him a vase to receive the rain about to fall. Figures of this kind 
are still in use, Miss Allen tells me, as rain-makers, but in the neighbouring towns 
'they are already sold as chimney-piece ornaments.' 

2 These zigzags occur on 'Dipylon' vases where no rain-making ceremony is 
depicted. It is not therefore absolutely certain that they represent lightning, but 
it is highly probable. A zigzag pattern is used to decorate a votive double-axe on 
'palace' pottery, and the connection of the double-axe with lightning is well known. 
See B.S.A. vn. (1900-1), Fig. 15, p. 53, and Mr A. B. Cook, Class. Rev. 1903, 
p. 406. It has been suggested to me by Miss Gertrude Elles that the zigzag pattern 
may represent simply rain. A zigzag line is the Egyptian hieroglyph for water. 
If so the rain issuing from the body of the rain-maker is illustrated by Aristophanes, 
Nubes, 372. 

3 I. 9. 7 ZXtye yap eavrbv elvai Ala koI rds enelvov dualas a<pe\6f*evos eavry 
irpoo£Ta<r<re dtieiv, Kal jivpaas nev iwpa/j./xtvas e£ ap/xaros /xerd. \e(lr)Twv xaX^wv (rupwv, 
i-Xeye (ipovTav, fiaWwv 5e els ovpavov aldop.4vas \a/ £\ey€i> d^TpawTeiv. 

4 Mn. vi. 585. 




thunder of Zeus, and as such condemned to eternal blasting in 


Salmoneus saw I cruel payment making 
For that he mocked the lightning and the thunder 
Of Jove in high Olympus. His four steeds 
Bore him aloft : shaking a fiery torch 
Through the Greek folk, midway in Elis town 
In triumph went he — for himself, mad man, 
He claimed God's rights. The inimitable bolt 
He mimicked and the storm cloud with the beat 
Of brass and clashing horse hooves. 

Even the kindly Plutarch 1 feels that on such as imitate 
thunder and lightning God justly looks askance, but he adds. 


Fig. 12. 

pleasantly, ' to those who imitate him in virtue, God gives a share 
of his Eunoinia and Dike.' 

Vergil describes the mad and blasphemous king as though he 
was an Olympian victor, and as such Salmoneus is depicted on the 
vase-painting from the fifth century krater 2 in Fig. 12. The central 
figure, Salmoneus, both holds and wears a wreath, and is all 
decked about with olive sprigs and fillets. In his right hand is 



1 Ad princip. incrud. 780 F vepLeaq. yap 6 Oebs rots aTro/M/j.ov/j.4i>ois 
Kepawovs /ecu aKTivofiokias, aKTivofSokia probably means 'sunshine.' 

2 Now in Chicago, published by Prof. Ernest Gardner in the American Journal 
of Archeology, in. (1899), 331, pi. 4, and wrongly, I think, interpreted as the madness 
of Athamas. 


Rainmakers in Thessaly 


a thunderbolt, in his left he uplifts a sword as though threatening 
the sky, which is about to discharge its thunderbolts. That he is 
a victor 1 is made certain by the figure of Nike behind him. She 
raises her hand as though in deprecation. Even for an Olympic 
victor Salmoneus goes rather far. 

Vergil and the vase-painter alike think of Salmoneus as at 
Olympia in Elis ; there it was fabled he perished, he and his 
people, blasted by the thunderbolt. But we learn from Apollo- 
dorus that before he ruled in Elis he dwelt in a country more 
primitive and always the home of magic, Pelasgian Thessaly 2 . 
From Thessaly comes to us an account of a curious rain-making 
ceremony not attributed to Salmoneus but well in line with his 
method of making the thunder. Antigonos of Karystos 3 , in his 
Account of Marvellous Things, says that at Krannon there was 
kept a bronze waggon, and ' when the land suffered from drought 
they shook it by way of praying the god for rain, and it was said 
rain came.' 

Fig. 13. 


Antigonos is rather vague as to what was actually done. They 
shook or agitated the waggon (r)v o-elovres). The type of some 
bronze coins 4 of Krannon (Kpavovvicov) of which two specimens 

1 This point has been very clearly brought out by Mr A. B. Cook in his dis- 
cussion of the vase in the Class. Rev. xvn. (1903), p. 275. 

2 At some time or other the kingdom and cult of Salmoneus must have passed 
to Crete and settled on the N.W. promontory of Salmonium or Sammonium. An 
Athena Salmonia occurs in an inscription dealing with Hierapytna. See Th. Eeinach, 
Rev. tie Wist, des Religions, hx. (1909), p. 177 3 . 

3 Hist. Mirab. XV. 'Ev Se Kpdvvwvi tt)s OeTTaXias Svo (pacriv \xbvov elvai KSpanas' Sid 
Kai evi twv wpo^eviQv twv dvaypa<pop.tvuv to wapdat)p.ov ttjs 7r6Xeu>? . . .VTroypa<povTcu 86o 

, K6paKes e</>' dp.a£Lov ^aX/coO, Sid to p.t)SewoTe TrXetovs tovtuv w(pdat. T) 5e ajuai; a irpoawupa- 
KeiTai Sid ToiavTrjv airiav ^ivov yap £'<rws dv Kai tovto (paveirj. £otiv avTols dvaKei/xevrf 
iXaXKT), rjv orav atix^bs V c«'oi/res iiSoop aWovvTai tov debv Kai <pa<n ylvecrdai. 

4 .Reproduced Meisterwerken, p. 259, by Dr Fui'twangler, to whom I owe the 
(reference. In the English edition of the book, the very interesting excursus on Ge 
praying for rain is unfortunately omitted. 


Magic [ CH - 

are reproduced in Fig. IS make, it ell clear. In («) we have a 
mimitive waggon, just two wheels with a cross pole-on it an 
Chore doutle. filled with water. The coin is not earlier than 
400 B.C and the shape of the high-handled amphora is late b» 
the primitive wheels show that an old type is revived. ^W 
the wneels are just rude pierced disks on whrch are perched the 

*H5£lZ5 ££T- have then as the device of the 
eityT-S-), - a traditional ceremony, pubhc, — 1 
Q rnlical ceremony for the making of ram. This is a tact; 01 
a magica [ ^Le Magic was no hole and corner practice- 

service K u P / paatiuica) ; .in a word 

Sl^thl "o/the individual. What e*act ly is this 

public social magic ? 

In the light of the three last chapters the nature and origin 
of magic is not hard to realize. First and foremost magic » a 
of magic is raiQ . m aker jingles his rattle and 

Sin. w Z, lit t *« something. Language- here speaks 
dear v enough The Latin factura is magical 'making,' witchcraft, 
SX is doing' and magic the Greek £«£». 

■wta- > connected wlth " f ^ doin< , which we ca ll speaking; 
The doing is sometimes that toim ol aoin w t hp Hebrew 

7 „„ the Greek enchanter, is but a specialized howlei , "tew 
dabar does not distinguish between word and deed. Of whatever 
kind the action, the essence of magic is 

I'll do, and I'll do, and I'll do. 

. Sec Head, Historic *»'"'°""<':J^.% „,„ u u a matter of hole and comer 

2 I do not to' a moment deny that mag " f'" bet „- ee n religion and magic is that 

rites. nor that, broadly speaking, one diet met, on between g ^ ^ o , fte 

mage ">nceme itself with the weal of the >nd»i«» . 8 dMerentiatic ,„. 

Sunnily, but I am ^%J"*lS» W«*i in Bezzenberger's 

* "' "tloh^nd'H OriSS „ S" W 1908, p. 60, for WrA»; 

iv] Psychology of Magic 83 

But this deed, this thing done, is not the beginning. Behind 
it lies desire, hope, if we like to call it so, faith. Our word ' credo ' 
is, sound for sound, the Vedic 1 graddha, and graddha means to 'set 
one's heart on.' Le desir c'est le fihre du dieu is true in part, but 
the god has other ancestors ; le desir cest le pere de la sorcellerie 
might be taken without qualification. Man, say the wise Upani- 
shads, is altogether desire (kama) : as is his desire so is his insight 
(kratu), as is his insight so is his deed (karma). 

This oneness of desire and deed, which the Indian mystic 
emphasizes, comes out very clearly in the simplest forms of magic 
when the magical act is only an uttered desire. You are becalmed, 
you can do nothing, think of nothing but the wind that will not 
come. The thought of it possesses you, obsesses you, till the tension 
on your nerves is too much, your longing will out ; the wind will 
not whistle for you, you whistle for the wind. Your first whistle 
is sheer, incarnate longing, but, as it came after long waiting, 
perhaps the wind really does rise. Next time the nerve paths are 
ready prepared, a habit is set up, a private, it may be public, ritual 
is inaugurated. 

In the case of whistling for the wind we have an element of 
/j,L/j,i]crt,<; ; you long for, you think intensely of, the wind, and you 
make a wind-sound ; but some other cases are simpler, their 
content is nothing but the one element of emotional discharge. 
You get a letter that hurts you, you tear it up instantly. You do 
this not because you think you are tearing up the writer, but just 
because you are hurt, and hurt nerves seek muscular discharge. 
You get a letter that heals you and you keep it, you hold it tight 
in your hand, you even, if you are a real savage, put it to your 
lips, simply because you act on the instinct to clutch what is life 
to you. The simplest case of all is Mr Marett's famous bull 2 . 
A man escapes from an enraged bull leaving his coat, the bull 
goes on goring the coat. Of course, as Mr Marett prudently 
observes, ' it is very hard to know what is going on in the bull's 
mind,' but one may guess that the bull does not act in obedience 
to a mistaken application of the laws of association ; he is 
simply letting loose his rage on something that happens to be 

1 See Maurice Bloomfield, Religion of the Veda, 1908, pp. 186 and 261. 

2 Threshold of Religion, p. 44. 


84 Magic [ch. 

The mainspring then of magic is emotion, desire — whether 
constructive or destructive — emotion, however, essentially not 
passive but active. But though any theory of magic which starts 
rather from the intellect than from the will, which thinks to find 
its roots in the ' mental framework and constitution ' of man is 
doomed to failure, it would be a great mistake to suppose that 
magic contains nothing of intellectual effort, no theory whatever. 
The last chapter was devoted to this theory, or perhaps we might 
almost call it category of thought, to that notion of awfulness and 
force informed by collective emotion, variously called Wakon'-da, 
orenda, mana. Mana, orenda, Wakoji'-da are not the origin of magic 
— that lies as we have seen in will and emotion — but they are the 

^medium in which as it were magic acts and its vehicle. As we saw 
in the case of Wakon'-da, this medium makes a sort of spiritualized 
unity behind the visible differentiation of thought, it joins not only 
man and man, but man and all living things, all material things pos- 
sessed by it, it is the link between the whole and its severed part. 
Things can affect each other not by analogy, because like affects 
like, but by that deeper thing participation 1 , in a common life that 
serves for link. A deer and a feather and the plant kikuli are all 
one, says the Huichol Indian. Absurd, says the civilized rationalist, 
they belong to different classes, concepts utterly differentiated by 
difference in qualities. But the wise savage knows better, they 
have all one quintessence, one life, and that mystical life produces 

-jn him the same reactions of awe and hope ; they are to him one. 
The fundamental presupposition of magic, says Dr Frazer, is 
identical with that of science, and it consists of a ' faith, implicit, 
but real and firm, in the order and uniformity of nature 2 .' The 
fundamental presupposition of all but the most rudimentary magic, 
that in which the action is almost purely a reaction, as in the 
case of the torn letter, an action rather bordering on magic than 
actually magical — the fundamental presupposition is, not the 
order and uniformity of nature, not a thing mechanical, but a 
belief in something like the omnipresence of life, of power, some- 
thing analogous to the Stoic conception of the world as a living 
animal, a thing not to be coerced and restrained, but reverently 
wooed, a thing not immutable at all, but waxing and waning, 

1 Levy-Bruhl, Les f one t ions mentales, 1910, p. 69. 
'-' The Golden Bough 2 , i. p. 61. 

iv] Psychology of Magic 85 

above all not calculable and observable, but wilful and mysterious, 
a thing a man learns to know not by experiment but by initiation, 
a thing not of 'a natural law' but mystical entirely, halting always 
between an essence and a personality. Without this belief in mana, 
Wa-korc'-da, there would be acts of psychological discharge, but 
there could scarcely be a system of magic 1 . 

This notion of the continuous medium in which magic can act, 
and which anything like advanced magic seems to presuppose, is in 
a sense an abstraction or at least a pluralization, and must have 
been a gradual growth. One of the means and methods of its 
growth it is possible to trace. This brings us back to our medicine- 
man on the Dipylon fragment. 

In the centre of the design, as already noted, is a great 
' Mycenaean ' shield, not worshipped, for the medicine-man, as we 
have seen, is making rain on his own account, but manifestly, from 
its place on the altar, ' sacred.' Why is the shield sacred ? The 
prompt answer will probably be returned, ' because it is the shield 
of a god ' — perhaps of the sky-god. We have the usual a priori 
anthropomorphism. Man conceives of god in his own image. 
Savage man is a warrior, so his god is a warrior. He has a 
battle-axe, a shield. The battle-axe, the shield are sacred, divine, 
because they are the weapons, the attributes, of a w&v-god. 
Because in our theology we have borrowed from the Semites the 
Lord is a Man of War, because to us, ' there is none other that 
fighteth for us,' we straightway impose a war-god on the savage 
and the primitive Greek. Let us look at facts — savage facts first. 

The Omaha, arch-spiritualists as they are, believe they can act 
on, they can direct, such Wa-kon'-da as they have by a sort of 
immediate telepathy on their fellows. They have a word for this 
— Wa-zhin-dhe-dhe, wazhin, directive energy, dhe-dhe, to send- ; by 

1 See especially MM. Hubert et Mauss, Theorie Generale de la Magie, Annee 
Sociologique, 1902-3, p. 108. 

2 Miss Alice Fletcher, On the import of the totem among the Omahas, Pro- 
ceedings of the American Assoc, for the Advancement of Science, 1897, p. 326. 
See also Notes on certain beliefs concerning Will-Power among the Siouan tribes, a 
paper read by Miss Fletcher before the American Association for the Advancement 
of Science, Buffalo Meeting, Aug. 1896. For my knowledge of this interesting paper 
I am indebted to the kindness of Dr A. C. Haddon. 

86 Magic [ch. 

singing certain songs you can send will and power to a friend to 
help him in a race or a game, or strength and courage to a warrior 
Jn battle. But peoples less spiritualized cling to the outward and 
visible sign. An Arunta native 'sings' over a stick or a stone or 
a spear, and thereby gives it what he calls Arungquiltha, a magical 
dangerous evil power. The object itself, a thin flake of flint attached 
to a spear thrower and carefull} 7 painted, is called Arungquiltha ; 
the property is not distinguished from the vehicle. It is left in the 
sun for some days, and the men visit it daily and sing over it a 
request to kill the intended victim, ' Go straight, go straight, kill 
him.' By and by, if the Arungquiltha is successful, they hear a 
noise like a crash of thunder, and then they know that, in the 
form of a great spear the Arungquiltha has gone straight to the 
man, mutilating and thus killing him 1 . 

A tool is but an extension, an amplification, of a man's person- 
ality. If the savage feels that he can get Wa-ko?i'-da, surely that 
Wa-ko?i'-da can pass into that outer personality which is his tool, 
his weapon. We hear it passing as he ' sings ' the Arungquiltha. 
It is, M. Bergson 2 has taught us, characteristic of man as intelligent 
rather than instinctive that he is a tool-user, Homo faber. The 
other animals have tools indeed, beaks and paws of Avhich they 
make marvellous use, but these instruments are parts of the 
animal who uses them, they are organic. A very intelligent 
animal like an elephant can use a tool, he cannot make one. It 
is the fabricated tool, inorganic, separate, adaptable, apt to serve 
the remoter rather than the immediate end, that marks the 
intelligence of man. This separation, this adaptability, this 
superiority of function in the tool, primitive man did not analyse, 
but he found that with his tool he had more mana than without ; 
he could send his mana out further, he was bigger and more 
splendid ; so the tool, the weapon, became per se sacred, not 
because it was the instrument of a god, but because it was the 
extension and emphasis of a man. 

We must then clear our minds of all notion that the hoplo- 
latry of the Greeks implies anthropomorphism. The shield on 
the altar is sacred because it is a shield, a tool, a defensive weapon, 

1 Spencer and Gillen, The Native Tribes of Central Australia, 1899, p. 548. 

2 L' Evolution Creatrice, p. 151, ' L'intelligence, envisagee dans ce qui en parait 
etre la demarche originelle, est la faculte de fabriquer des objets artificiels, en 
particulier des outils a faire des outils et d'en varier indefiniment la fabrication.' 

iv] The Tool as extension of Personality 87 

part of a man's personality, charged with magical force, spreading 
the contagion of its mana by its very presence. Not less sacred 
are the tools of the medicine-man, the rain-rattles. 

In the light of this notion of the tool, the weapon as part 
of a man's personality, many a funeral custom becomes clear 1 . A 
warrior's weapons, a medicine-man's gear, a woman's cooking 
utensils and her baskets, are buried with them. We think it is 
because they will want them in the next world. It is not quite 
that ; we are nearer the truth when we say it is from sentiment. 
The tools a man used are part of him, of his life, of his mana. 
What life, what mana, have joined together, let not man nor death 
put asunder. 

Fm. 14. 

A weapon then does not of necessity owe its sanctity to a god ; 
rather in one case, the actual case before us, we can see before 
our very eyes a god grow up out of a weapon. Pallas Athena, 
Guardian, Promachos, of her city, is altogether human ; but what 
of the Palladion ? The Palladia have always one characteristic, 
they are sky-fallen (SioTrerels)-. They are irdXra, things hurled, 

1 See Levy-Bruhl, 'Les Fonctions Mentales dans les Soci^tes Inferieures, ' 
p. 384, and E. Hertz, La Representation collective de la Mart in Annee Socio- 
logique, x. 1905-6. In the matter of tools, etc. as part of the personality of a 
man I am glad to find my view has been anticipated by Mr A. B. Cook in a paper 
on Greek Votive Offering in Folk-Lore xiv. 1903, p. 278. Mr Cook quotes as his 
psychological authority Lotze in the Microcosmus i. 136. My view is only an 
application to the savage of William James's view of personality in general; see 
his Principles of Psychology i. p. 292. 

2 See M. Theodor Beinach's brilliant articles Itanos et I'lnventio Scuti no n 
p. 331, in Bevue de l'Histoire des Beligions, lx. 1909. 

88 Magic [ch. 

cast down ; the lightning is the hurled fire (iraXrov trvp). Pallas 
then is but another form of Keraunos — the thunderbolt hurled. 
According to ancient thinking, that which slays can save ; so the 
Palladion which was the slayer became the Saviour, the Shield. 
In the well-known fresco from Mycenae 1 in Fig. 14 we see the 
Shield, half humanized, as the object of an actual cult; before it is 
a portable altar, to either side a woman worshipper. But it is not 
the goddess Pallas Athena who lends sanctity to the Palladion, it 
is the sanctity of the Palladion that begets the godhead of Pallas 

This question of the sanctity of the weapon itself as a vehicle 
of mana and an extension of man's personality is important for 
our adequate understanding of the thunder- cult among the Greeks. 
The Greek of classical days normally conceived of thunder not as 
a vague force but as a definite weapon, a bolt wielded by Zeus. 
Hesiod's great account of a thunderstorm finishes thus 2 : 

Turmoil and dust the winds belched out and thunder 
And lightning and the smoking thunderbolt, 
Shafts of great Zeus. 

Here and elsewhere we have three factors in a thunderstorm, 
thunder itself, the noise heard (/Spovr/]), lightning, the flash seen 
{arepoirr)), and a third thing, icepavvo*;, w r hich we translate 
' thunderbolt.' All three are shafts, icrfXa, of mighty Zeus. Mighty 
Zeus we ma}' dismiss. He is the product of a late anthropo- 
morphism, but the three sorts of 'shaft' mentioned are interesting. 
Thunder is a reality, a sound actually heard, lightning no less a 
reality, actually seen, but the third shaft — the thunderbolt ? There 
is no such thing. Yet by a sort of irony it is the non-existent 
thunderbolt that Greek art most frequently depicts 3 . 

The word translated ' shafts,' Krjka, is an interesting one. It 
is used only in the plural and of the weapons of a god, and twice 
it occurs in descriptions of the weather. In the Hesiod passage 

1 "Ecp-qneph "Apx- 1887, PI. x. 2. 

2 Hes. Theog. 708 

aiiv 5' avepLoi evoalv re KovirjP t ia<pa.pdyt^0P, 
fipovT-qv re CTepoTr-qv re Kal aldaXofvra Kepavvbv 
Krjka Aio$ pLtyaXoio. 

3 For the various forms, bird, flower, etc., in which Greek art depicts the thunder- 
bolt, see P. Jacobsthal, Der Blitz inder Orientalischen und Griechischen Kunst, 1906. 

iv] Keraunos as Weapon 89 

we have seen it used of thunder and lightning; in the Iliad 1 , when 
Zeus the Counsellor hath begun to snow he shows forth there his 
shafts, his KrjXa to men. The shafts of Apollo 2 when he rains the 
plague nine days long upon the Greek host are tcrfXa, which makes 
it probable that they were originally the avenging darts of the 
outraged Sun. When Hesiod numbers icepavvos among the KrjXa, 
he is of course quite unaware that they are practically the same 
word, KrjXa and /cepavvos both from a root 3 meaning to 'smash.' 
Neither word commits us definitely to any notion of a particular 
missile ; both simply mean ' destroyers, smashers.' 

We know now-a-days, though most of us vaguely enough, that 
a thunderstorm is somehow due to a ' discharge of electricity.' 
When a man is ' struck by lightning ' he ' dies of an electric 
shock.' But how should primitive man know that ? Meteorology 
is the last of the sciences. He sees the black cloud rising, he feels 
a horrible oppression in the sultry air, he hears unearthly rumblings 
and watches flashes of lightning play across the sky. Finally he 
hears a noise over his head like a cart-load of bricks ; earth and 
sky, as Hesiod describes it, are jumbled together with an un- 
speakable din and he gives up all for lost. Presently it is all over, 
the sun is shining, the trees glistening, the earth refreshed and 
glad. If that were all, he might think there had been 'plenty 
devil about,' or if he was an optimist much mana and Wa-ko?('-da. 
But when he goes into the bush he finds a great tree split and 
charred, or the body of his best friend lying on the road dead, 
distorted. Something has struck the tree and the man and 
smashed them ; there have been KrjXa, destroying weapons, about, 
clubs or battle-axes or sharp pointed arrows that slay. 

This notion of the thunderbolt, the weapon, was fostered but 

not I think started by a popular and widespread error. We have 

seen that in the mysteries of the Idaean Daktyls, Pythagoras was 

1 xii. 280 

wpero fxriTieTa Zeus 
vKpi/xev avdpwTroicn Tn<pa.v<rK6fj.evos to. fa KrjXa. 
- II. i. 53 

evvrinap fitv ava trrparbv $X €T0 KV^ a Oeolo. 
Sunbeams in the Anthology (Anth. Pal. xiv. 139) are xpv ffea KrjXa. 

3 The root gar, which gives Sanskrit (jrnd'ti, he breaks, destroys, and gdtoj&s, 
arrow-point, Gk. k^Xov and Kepai'i'etv (Kepapii'eiv), to destroy, where the primitive 
meaning comes out. See for KrjXov, Meyer, Handbuch d. Gr. Etymologie, n, p. 440 ; 
for Kepavv6s, n. p. 362. Pindar, Mr Cornford points out to me, plays on the diverse 
meanings of KijXa and K-qXeiv in bis KrjXa. 5e /ecu | 5ai/j.6vuiv OiXyei. <pp£vzs (Pyth. i. 20). 
The weapons of the gods are magical to hurt and heal. 

90 Magic [ch 

purified by a thunder-stone and that this thunder-stone was 
in all probability nothing but a black stone celt, the simplest 
form of stone-age axe. The wide-spread delusion that these celts 
were thunderbolts cannot have taken hold of men's minds till 
a time when their real use as ordinary axes was forgotten. It 
cannot therefore have been very primitive, though it is almost 
world-wide. The double axe, ire\eKv<i, as will later be seen, was 
assuredly in Crete and other parts of the ^gean a sacred object, 
but the normal weapon which is the normal art-form of the 
thunderbolt is not a double axe. It is more of the nature of 
a double pointed dart, a bidens. The special form of weapon taken 
to represent the thunderbolt is however a matter of secondary 
importance. The essential fact is that thunder was regarded not 
only as a force (/cpaTos), a sort of incarnate mana or Wa-kon'-da, 
but as that extension of human force which is a destructive 
weapon (tcepavvos). 

So far then we have considered magic as the manipulation of 
mana. Man tries to handle this mysterious force, a force partly 
within him, partly without, for his own ends — he tries to make 
thunder, mainly that it may rain and the earth may bring 
forth her fruits. But the thunder as destructive weapon has 
brought us face to face with another aspect of, or rather perhaps 
attitude towards, mana, that attitude towards things that is 
summed up in the w T ord tabu. Tabu, avoidance, scruple, some 
authorities would have us think, is of the very essence of religion. 
M. Salomon Reinach 1 proposes to define religion as un ensemble de 
scrupules qui font obstacle au libre exercice de nos facultes. This 
seems to me a somewhat serious misconception. It is to put tabu 
before mana, a negative aspect before a positive conviction. It is 
true that the Latin word religio 2 , from which our word comes, 
means { to consider, to be careful about, to attend to,' it is the 
opposite of negligere, but attention is not tabu. We shall get a 
clearer notion of the real gist of tabu and its intimate inextricable 
relation with mana if we study a certain special form of Greek 

1 Orpheus, p. 4. M. Beinach does not of course ignore the mana element, but 
his emphasis on the negative, tabu, side, is, I think, misleading. 

2 For an excellent analysis of religio see W. Otto, Religio und Superstitio, in 
Arehiv f. Eeligionswissenschaft xn. (1909), p. 533, and xiv. (1911), p. 406. 

iv] The Horkos, the abaton and tabu 91 

In Greece a place that was struck by lightning became an 
afiarov, a spot not to be trodden on, unapproachable. On the 
Acropolis at Thebes were to be seen, Pausanias 1 tells us, the bridal 
chambers of Harmonia and Semele — and even to his day, Pausanias 
adds, no one was allowed to set foot in the chamber of Semele. 
And why ? The other name for these tabu-ed places speaks 
clearly — they were evrfKvcrta, places of coming. This Poliux tells 
us, is the name given to places on which a bolt from heaven has 
descended. The Etymologicum Magnum adds that such places 
were dedicated to Zeus the Descender (Karat^drr)), and were 
called a^ara and ahvra. In the aftaTov at Thebes, ' along with 
the thunderbolt which was hurled on the bridal chamber of 
Semele, there fell a log from heaven, and they say that Polydorus 
adorned this log with bronze and called it Dionysos 1 Kadnios.' 

Here we see unmistakeably the meaning of tabu : it is an 
attitude towards mana; something full of mana, instinct, alive with 
Wa-kow'-da, has fallen from heaven to earth and that spot of earth 
becomes charged as it were with an electric potency, that spot of 
earth must in common prudence for the common good be fenced 
about. It becomes a Horkos, an enclosed sanctity 2 . When theo- 
logians, busy with their full-blown Olympians, forgot the old 
notion of mana, the double-edged sanctity, they invented the 
vulgar story that Semele was blasted for impiety, for idle curiosity ; 
but the old local legend remembered that the thunderstorm was 
the bridal of Earth and Sky, of Gaia-Semele and Ouranos- 
Keraunos, and that from that wedding sprang the thunder-child 

On the Acropolis of Athens as on the Acropolis at Thebes, 
and probably in early days on every high place, there was a Place 
of Coming — and it shows us a new characteristic of these a/3ara. 
They were not only fenced in as tabu, but they were left open to 
the sky, ' hypaethral,' left in communication as it were with the 
source of their mana, their sanctity, which might pour in upon 
them anew any time. In the north porch of the Erechtheion are 
the marks of a trident 3 . In examining the roof of this north 

1 IX. 12. 3 .../cat es Tjfias 2ti dfiarov <pv\a<r<rov<riv avdpibwois. 

2 See Professor Gilbert Murray, Rise of the Greek Epic, p. 265 ' The word 
Horkos which we translate an oath, really means "a fence, "or "something that 
shuts you in." ' 

3 See my Primitive Athens, 1906, p. 59. 

92 Magic [ch. 

porch it has been found that immediately above the trident-mark 
an opening in the roof had been purposely left : the architectural 
traces are clear. But what does Poseidon want with a hole in the 
roof? It is no good to a sea-god. It is every good to a lightniag- 
god, and before Poseidon took to the sea he was Erechtheus the 
Smiter, the Earth-shaker; this trident was the weapon of his 
striking, his fulmen trisulcum. Lightning-struck places are to 
the Latins bidentalia 1 , consecrated by the bidens, the two-bladed 
thunderbolt, a sanctity more potent than any tender two-toothed 

Rome gives us not only the bidentalia, but a clear case of the 
hypaethral afiarov in the shrine of old Terminus. Ovid 2 tells us 
that, when the new Capitol was being built, a whole multitude of 
divinities were consulted by augury as to whether they would 
Avithdraw to make place for Jupiter. They tactfully consented, 
all but old Terminus, the sacred boundary-stone. He stood fast, 
remaining in his shrine, and ' still possesses a temple in common 
Avith mighty Jupiter.' 

And still, that he may see only heaven's signs, 
In the roof above him is a little hole. 

Servius 3 in commenting on a passage in Vergil says, in the 
Capitoline temple the part of the roof immediately above the very 
stone of Terminus Avas open, for to Terminus it is not allowable to 
sacrifice save in the open air. The reason lies a little deeper. 
Terminus was just an old thunder-stone, a SioTrerh ayaX/xa, a 
Palladion ; he had come down from the sky and naturally he 
liked to look up at it, more mana to him ! All sky-gods felt the 
same, Fulgur, Caelum, Sol and Luna Avere, Vitruvius 4 tells us, 
Avorshipped in hypaethral temples. 

Thebes, Ave have seen, had its afiarov, its place of mana and 
tabu ; at Thebes Avas born the thunder-child Bromios. The 
Bacchae of Euripides is hard enough to understand anyhow, but 
Ave cannot even begin its understanding till Ave realize that the 
roots of its plot lie deep in things primitive, in the terror and 

1 See H. Usener, Keraunos, Rhein. Mus. lx. 1905, p. 22. 

2 Fast. ii. 667 

Nunc quoque, se supra ne quid nisi sidera cernat, 
Exiguum templi tecta foramen habent. 
8 ad JEn. ix. 448. 4 i. 2. 5. 

iv] Thunder-elements in the Bacchae 93 

beauty, the blasting and the blessing of the thunderstorm, the 
magic of mana, the sanctity of tabu. 

The keynote is struck in the first words of the prologue. 
Dionysos enters, so quietly, yet against a background of thunder 
and lightning. 

Behold God's son is come unto this land 
Of Thebes — even I, Dionysos, whom the brand 
Of heaven's hot sjJendour lit to life — when she 
Who bore me, Cadmus' daughter, Semele, 
Died here 1 . 

He sees the afiarov of his mother, from which is rising faint smoke 
through the vine leaves. 

There by the castle's side 
I see the place, the Tomb of the Lightning's Bride, 
The wreck of smouldering chambers, and the great 
Faint wreaths of tire undying 2 . 

The god knows this aftctTov, though unapproachable, is no monu- 
ment of shame, but of grace, of glory unspeakable. 

Aye, Cadmus hath done well, in purity 

He keeps the place apart, inviolate, 

His daughter's sanctuary, and I have set 

My green and clustered vines to robe it round 3 . 

The sacrilege of the later version of the story is horrible to 
think of. 

All through the play there are hauntings of lightning and 
thunder. The sudden fiery apparitions are not merely ' poetical,' 
in honour of any and every god ; they are primitive, and of the 
actual lightning-cultus of the land. And above all, the great 
Epiphany of the Lightning is but the leaping forth afresh of the 
fire from Semele's Tomb. 

Unveil the Lightning's eye ; arouse 
The Fire that sleeps, against this house, 

and then the measure changes, and to arrest attention come the 
two solemn emphatic syllables a, a. 

saw ye, marked ye there the flame 

From Semele's enhallowed sod 
Awakened 1 Yea, the Death that came 
Ablaze from heaven of old, the same 
Hot splendour of the shaft of God 4 . 

1 Eur. Bacch. 1. -v. 6. 

3 v. 10. 4 v. 596. 

94 Magic [ch. 

And again on Cithaeron we have the awful stillness before the 

storm, the mysterious voice and then the Epiphany of the pillar 

of fire, 

So spake he and there came 
'Twixt earth arid sky a pillar of high flame 
And silence took the air — and no leaf stirred 

In all the dell 1 . 

Euripides is a realist, but he is a poet, and the stuff he is 
dealing with is very primitive. His persons are also personae, 
masks-. Behind his very human and vividly conceived realities are 
shadowy shapes of earlier days, powers and portents (reipea) of 
earth and heaven, Pentheus the dragon's seed and Bromios the 
thunder and lightning. It is in part this strange blend of two 
worlds, two ways of thinking, that lends to the Bacchae its amazing 

The Thunder-Rites have made clear to us the two-fold attitude 
of man towards mana, his active attitude in magic, his negative 
attitude in tabu. We have further seen how in the thunder 
as weapon, we have an extension of man's personality, a bridge, 
as it were, between the emotion and desire within a man, his own 
internal mana and that mana of the outside world he is trying 
to manipulate. We have now to consider other developments 
of magic which have left clear traces of their influence on Greek 
mythology and cultus, especially the magic of birds and its rela- 
tion to the medicine-king, and the control of both over not only 
thunder but the weather generally. 

(b) Medicine-Bird and Medicine King. 

From Homer magic has been expurgated 3 ; that does not 
surprise us. It is to Hesiod that we look for primitive super! 
stitions, for it is Hesiod who deals with those ' Works,' those 
doings of man that are, we have seen, so closely intertwined with 
the beginnings of magic. Of magic in Hesiod there is no express 

1 Eur. Bacch. 1082. 

2 See Mr F. M. Cornford, Thucydides Mythistoricus, p. 141. 

3 For the absence of magic and other ' Beastly Devices of the Heathen,' from 
Homer, see Mr Andrew Lang, ' Homer and Anthropology,' in Anthropology and 

iv] Magic and tabu in Hesiocl 95 

mention 1 , and of actual magical rites we bear nothing, though 
tabus abound ; but of magical ways of thinking, thinly veiled by 
Olympian orthodoxy, the Works and Days are full, and for the 
understanding of the magical attitude we can have no better 
helper than Hesiod. 

Hesiocl ends his Works and Days- with the words that stand 
at the head of this Chapter: 

Lucky and bless'd is he, who, knowing all these things, 
Toils in the fields, blameless before the Immortals, 
Knowing in birds and not overstepping tabus. 

Here we have the Whole Duty of Man, positive and negative, at 
least of Hesiod's holy or pious man, his delo<; av?jp, which might 
perhaps be translated man of sanctities 3 . His delos dvijp Hesiod 
characterizes as ireirvvfieva elBax;, ' Knowing the things of the 
spirit,' the man who is good about mana*. 

Hesiod is of course a convinced and most conscientious 
theologian of the Olympian school. Tradition says he was born 
at Kyme in iEolis, and his father migrated to Askra on the slopes 
of Mt Helikon. Anyhow his ' epos of plain teaching 5 ,' like the 
Homeric epos of romance and war, moves formally and consciously 
in front of a background of Ionian Olympian gods, whom every- 
where he is concerned to glorify and defend. But far more clearly 
than in Homer these gods are seen to be, however much revered, 
an artificial background. Thus in the lines before us the pious 
man is to be ' blameless before the immortals,' but, when it came 

the Classics, edited by E. Marett, 1908, p. 44. For its emergence in Hesiod and 
the Rejected Epics, see Prof. Gilbert Murray, ; Anthropology in the Greek Epic 
Tradition outside Homer,' in the same volume, p. 66. 

1 My attention was drawn to this curious fact by Mr D. S. Robertson. It may 
be that magic by the time of Hesiod was too uncanny for discussion. 

2 v. 825 

ev8ai/xup re kclI o\/3ios 8s rdde iravra 

eidws ipya^rjTai. dvairios adaudroicnv 

opvidas Kplvuiv icai Owe pBaaias dXeeivuv. 

3 Op. 731 

...Oeios dvrjp, iretrvvfiiva eiduis, 
for the meaning of dews as ' magical ' and $e6s as primarily ' medicine-man,' see 
Prof. Gilbert Murray, Anthropology and the Classics, p. 79, and for the connection 
of these and other words with magic and the root de<s, see my Prolegomena, pp. 49 
and 137. 

4 The definition of the 6\j3ios in Hesiod contrasts strangely with that of Pindar 
(frag. 137) with its other-worldliness, 

OX/3ios ocrrts idwv neiv' elcr' 1 virb x^^' °^ € f 1 ^" fi' LOV reXevr&v, 
oildev 5e diocroorov dpx&v. 

5 See Prof. Gilbert Murray, Literature of Ancient Greece, 1897, p. 53. 

96 Magic [ch. 

to real definition of his duties, these duties are, not to glorify 
Athena or to offer burnt sacrifice to Zeus, they are not prayer or. 
praise or sacrifice in any form, but simply the observance of 
sanctities, attentions, positive and negative. He is to be ' knowing 
in birds and not overstepping tabus.' 

In the Theogony Hesiod is learned and theological, in the 
Works and Days he is practical and religious. He is the small 
Boeotian farmer, and the small Boeotian farmer had his living to 
earn and enough to do to earn it, without greatly concerning 
himself with theogonies and the like, which must have seemed to 
him but ' genealogies and foolish questions ' or at best matter for 
the learned, leisured subjects for ' Sunday reading.' The small 
Boeotian farmer is not a sceptic but a man bard pressed by 
practical necessities. What really concerns him is the weather 
and the crops and the season ; how he must till the earth and 
■when, that is the Works and the Days. With all this to know, 
with the weather to watch and tabus to attend to, with all the 
lucky and unlucky things to be done and not done, a man had 
his hands full and had not much time for brooding over Athena, 
goddess of light and reason, or Apollo with his silver bow. 

We think of Helicon as the fountain of inspiration, as the 
mountain of the Muses, where, circling and surging, ' they bathe 
their shining limbs in Hippocrene and dance ever with soft feet 
around the violet spring.' So does Hesiod in the prooemium to 
the Theogony which is at once local and Homeric, Boeotian and 
Ionian. But the real Helicon of Hesiod's father ! ' He made his 
dwelling near Helicon in a sorry township, even Askra bad in 
winter, insufferable in summer, never good 1 .' In Helicon it was 
all you could do to keep body and soul together by ceaseless 
industry and thrift, by endless ' watching out,' by tireless ob- 
servance of the signs of earth and heaven. Year in, year out, the 
Boeotian farmer must keep his weather eye open. 

You must watch the House-carrier 2 , the snail, because, when 
he crawls up the plants from the ground, fleeing from the Pleiades, 

1 Hes. Op. 640 

"AaKprj x^f 10 - KUKy 0epf apyaXeri ov5^ ttot €<r6\rj. 

2 v. 572 

dXX' 6w6t dv <pep£oiKos dwb x^opos d/J. <pvrd fiaivr) 

IIXTjtdSas (pevywv, Tore 5tj (TKdcpos ovk^tl civiuv. 
Mr A. B. Cook has pointed out (Class. Rev. vm. p. 381) that these descriptive 
names, such as 'House-Carrier,' 'Boneless One,' 'No-Hair,' are comparable to the 
tabu on the proper name of some totem-animals. 

iv] The Weather -birds and the teirea 97 

it is no longer seasonable to dig about the vines. The snail 'fleeing 

from the Pleiades' — a strange conjunction of earth and heaven. 

We are in a world truly magical where anything can ' participate 

with ' and, in a sense, be the cause of anything else. If you are 

a woman, you must watch to see ' when the soaring spider weaveth 

her web in the full day,' and when ' the Wise One, the ant, 

gathereth her heap.' You will find that it is on the 12th day 

of the waxing moon and then is it well that a woman should set 

up her loom and lay the beginning of her work 1 . But first and 

foremost you should watch the birds who are so near the heavenly 

signs, the reipea, and who must know more than man. This 

watching of the birds we are accustomed to call the ' science of 

augury'; we shall presently see that in its origin it is pure magic, 

'pure doing; the magical birds make the weather before they 

portend it 2 .' 

Take heed what time thou hearest the voice of the crane 
Who, year by year, from out the clouds on high 
Clangs shrilly, for her voice bringeth the sign 
For ploughing and the time of winter's rain, 
And bites the heart of him that hath no ox 3 . 

If the warning of the crane be neglected there is yet for the 

late plougher another chance of which already we have learnt : 

And if thou ploughest late, this be thy charm : 
When first the cuckoo cuckoos in the oak, 
Gladdening men's hearts over the boundless earth, 
Then may Zeus rain 4 . 

Again the advice to the Vine-grower : 

But when Zeus hath accomplished sixty days 

After the solstice, then Arkturos leaves 

Okeanos' holy stream, and first doth rise 

In radiance at the twilight. After him 

Comes the shrill swallow, daughter of Pandion, 

Uprising with the rising of the spring. 

Before she comes, prune thou thy vines. 'Tis best 6 . 

The short practical mandates cut sharply in through the poetry 
and all the lovely blend of bird and constellation, which are alike 
reipea, heavenly signs. 

On a black-figured vase in the Vatican 6 (Fig. 15) we have the 
scene of the coming of the swallow. We have a group of men and 

1 Hes. Op. 776. 

2 I owe this suggestion and much help in the matter of bird-magic to the 
kindness of Mr Halliday. 

3 v. 450. * v. 486. B v. 564. 
6 From a photograph. See Baumeister, Denkmaler, in. Fig. 2128, p. 1985. 

H. 7 




boys all glad and eager to welcome her. The first boy says ' Look, 
there's a swallow ' (ISov %eXtS&>^) ; a man answers ' by Herakles, 
so there is ' (vrj rbv 'Hpa/c\ea) ; another boy exclaims ' There she 
goes ' (avTijl) ; and then ' Spring has come ' (eap ijSr}). 

Fig. 15 

I have advisedly translated opviQas Kp'ivwv ' knowing in birds' 
rather than ' reading or discriminating omens.' A convention in 
construing and even in literary translation prevails, that the word 
opvis, whenever it has anything to do with presage, is to be 
translated omen. The habit seems to me at once ugly and I 
slipshod. All the colour and atmosphere of the word opvi? is ' 
thereby lost ; lost because with us the word omen is no more a | 
winged word. It is safer, I think, to translate opus as bird, and 
realise by a slight mental effort that to the Greek a 'bird' is 


iv] The mantle Weather-bird 99 

The classical scholar is in no danger of forgetting the wider 
and derived meaning of opvis. Aristophanes 1 is always at hand 
to remind him : 

An ox or an ass that may happen to pass, 
A voice in the street or a slave that you meet, 
A name or a word by chance over-heard, 
If you deem it an omen, you call it a bird. 

The danger is that we should forget the simple fact to which 
the use of opvts, and olwv6<i, and the Latin aves bears such over- 
whelming testimony, namely that among Greeks and Romans 
alike the watching of birds, their flight, their notes, their habits, 
their migrations were in all mantic art a primary factor. 

The mantic weather-bird precedes the prophetic god. The 
claim put forward by the chorus of Birds 2 is just : 

We are Delphi, Ammon, Dodona, in fine 
We are every oracular temple and shrine... 
Tf birds are your omens, it clearly will follow 
That birds are the proper prophetic Apollo. 

Nor is this mere comedy. In a primitive religion to introduce 
new gods is to introduce new birds. When Pentheus is raging 
against Teiresias, the ancient mantic priest, who will support the 
new Bacchic religion, he says 

'Tis thou hast planned 
This work, Teiresias, 'tis thou must set 
Another altar and another yet 
Amongst us, watch new birds 3 . 

The remembrance of the mantic birds was never lost at Delphi. 
The vase-painting in Fig. 16* shows us the Delphic omphalos 
decked with sprays and fillets, Apollo to the right with his staff 
of mantic bay, Artemis to the left with blazing torch. Between 
them, perched on the oracular stone itself, a holy bird. 

If Hesiod had been pressed as to why birds were ominous, 
why they could help man by foretelling to him the coming of 
spring or the falling of rain, he would no doubt have fallen back 
on his Olympian gods. The gods had given the birds this power, 
the eagle was the messenger of Zeus, the raven of Apollo, the owl 
of Athena. He would not quite have called them as we do now 
attributes, but he would have thought of them, if pressed, as 

1 Aves, 719, trans. Kogers. 2 v. 716. 

3 Eur. Bacch. 256. 4 Annali dell' Arch. Inst. 1865, Tav. d' agg. 





heralds of his immortals. This view is almost inevitable as long 
as the bird is regarded as an omen pure and simple, as merely 
portending the weather, the said weather being made or at least 
arranged by some one else. There are not wanting signs however 
that, beneath this notion of birds as portents, there lies an earlier 
stratum of thought in which birds were regarded not merely as 

Fig. 16. 

portending the weather but as potencies who actually make it, 
not, that is, as messengers but as magicians. This early way of 
thinking comes out most clearly in the case of a bird who never 
became the ' attribute ' of any Olympian, the homely woodpecker. 

In the Birds of Aristophanes the Hoopoe asks Euelpides if 

the birds ought not by rights to have the kingdom, since, as he 

has admitted, they were there before Kronos and the Titans, yes, 

and before Earth herself 1 . Yes ! by Apollo, says Euelpides, they 

certainly ought and you had better be trimming up your beaks, 

for you can't expect that 

Zeus the pretender 
; 11 make haste to surrender 
The Woodpecker's sceptre he stole 2 . 

1 Ar. Aves, 468 

apxcubrepot Trpdrepoi re Kpovov /cat Ttrdvwv eylveade 
Kal yijs. 

2 Ax. Aves, 478 

iravv Tolvvv XPV pvyx * p6<rKeiv 
oiiK aTroduxrei Ta\^s 6 Zfuj rb iXKTJirTpov tu> dpvKok&Trrr). 
Peisthetairos and Euelpides go on to explain how divers birds were kings in divers 


The Woodpecker-king 


Zeus stole the sceptre from the woodpecker in Greece but too 
effectively. The tradition of Keleos the old king of Eleusis 1 lived 
on ; but who remembers that he was the rain-bird, the green wood- 
pecker living at Woodpecker-town (Keleai), the woodpecker who 
yaffles in our copses to-day ? In German mythology 2 he survives, 
but as miscreant not as king. The woodpecker was ordered by 
God to dig a well. He refused, fearing to soil his fine clothes. 
God cursed him for his idleness. He was never again to drink 
from a pond and must always cry giet, giet (giess) for rain. The 
many thirst-stories found in folk-lore all point to rain-birds. 

It was in Italy not Greece that the royal woodpecker lived on, 
and it is there that we shall find him realize his function not as 
omen-bird but as magician-king, not portending the weather but 
actually making it. 

The design in Fig. 17 is from a gem, a carnelian now in the 
Berlin Museum 3 . A bird, who for the 
moment shall be nameless, is perched 
on a post round which is coiled a snake 4 . 
At the foot is a ram slain in sacrifice. 
A young warrior carrying a shield 
stands before the bird with upraised 
hand as though saluting it or asking 
a question. The interpretation of the 
gem, though it has analogies to the 
scene on the Hagia Triada sarcophagos 
to be later discussed 5 , must have re- 
mained pure conjecture, but for a 
passage in Denys of Halicarnassos as 
follows : 

Three hundred stadia further (in the country of the Apennines) is Tiora, 
called Matiene. Here there is said to have been an oracle of Mars of great 
antiquity. It is reported to have been similar in character to the fabled 
oracle at Dodona, except that, whereas at Dodona it was said that a dove 

lands : -the cock in Persia, the kite among certain Greeks, the cuckoo among the 
Phenicians ; and this is why birds are wont to sit upon their sceptres. 

1 Paus. ii. 14. 2. Another mystery-priest is Trochilus, the wren, P. i. 14. 2. 
For classical references to birds here and elsewhere see D'Arcy Thompson, A 
Glossary of Greek Birds. 

2 Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, n. p. 674. 

3 Furtwangler, Ant. Gem, pi. xxiv. 10, p. 119. 

4 The snake, I think, marks the post as, like the tree, belonging to earth, 
springing from the under-ground, ' chthonic' 

5 p. 159. 

Fig. 17. 

102 Magic [ch. 

perched on a sacred oak gave oracles, among the Aborigines the oracles were 
given in like fashion by a god-sent bird called by them Picus (the Greeks 
name it Dryokolaptes) which appears on a wooden pillar 1 . 

Denys of Halicarnassos, a Greek by birth, and one to whom 
Latin was an acquired language, saw the Roman Antiquities, to 
the study of which he devoted so much of his life, through Greek 
eyes, and again and again in dealing with things primitive he 
divines the substantial identity behind the superficial difference 2 . 
Dodona, her sacred oak, her sacred doves, her human god-king 
Zeus; Tiora, her tree-pillar, her woodpecker, her human god-king 

So far Picus is just a pie, an oracular bird. The term picus 

or pie, covered, it would seem, in Latin the genus woodpecker, 

called by the Greeks the wood-tapper (SpvoKoXdirTij^), and also 

from his carpentering habits the axe-bird (TreXe/ea?). The modern 

mag-pie has fallen on evil days. Mag is Meg, a common woman's 

name and one that stands for woman. Women from Hesiod's 

days downwards have always chattered ; the social silences of man 

are, in truth, compared to those of woman, more spacious and 

monumental. The magpie is now a thief, and worse, she is a 

spotted she-chatter-box. But the old folk-rhyme remembers when 

man listened reverently to the magpie's uncouth chatter and 

marked her ominous coming and knew that for him the more 

magpies the merrier. 

One for sorrow, 
Two for mirth, 
Three for a wedding, 
And four for a birth. 

We have seen the woodpecker Picus perched upon the tree- 
post, and when we meet him next he is not only associated with 
a tree but closely bound up with its life. The Latins, Plutarch 3 
tells us, gave special honour and worship to the woodpecker, the 
bird of Mars. And well they might. Twice did the woodpecker 

1 Dion. Hal. Antiq. I. 14 Ticipa 5e airo rpiaKOcriwv, i) KaKounevi} Mamr/vr). iv 
raiiTT] \iyerai xpVCTripiov "Apeos yevecrOai iravv apx&iov ' 6 de rpoiros avrov TrapairXricrios 
r)v his (pcuri ry Trapa AwSwecuots fj.vdoXoyovfj.ei>ip wore yevtadaf ttXt)v bcrov eKei (x.ev eiri 
bpvbs Upas (rreXela) Kade^o/xtvr) d«nriu>be'iv eXtyero, Trapa be rots 'A/3opiy?<n dibwep-irros 
opvis 6v avrol pl& irtKov, "EWrjves 5£ 5pvoKo\d.TrTT]v KaXoOffiv, irrl kLovos i-v\lvov <paiv6- 
fievos to aiiro Zdpa. 

2 As will later (p. 194) be seen, he was the first to see the substantial identity 
of the Roman Salii and the Greek Kouretes. 

3 Vit. JRom. iv. top 5£ SpvoKoXairrriv teal dia<pep6vrus Aarlvoi oifiovTai koI ti/aGxtiv. 


The Woodpecker-king 


interfere to save the divine twins Romulus and Remus ; once to 
save the holy trees with which their life was bound up, once to 
feed and protect them when they were exposed by the wicked 
uncle. It is obvious, I think, that the two versions are sub- 
stantially the same ; the life of the two trees and of the two royal 
children is really one. 

Before the birth of the royal twins, Silvia their mother dreamt 
a well-omened dream. She saw, wondrous to behold, two palm- 
trees shoot up together, the one taller than the other. The tall 
one with its heavy branches overshadowed the whole earth and 
with its topmost tresses touched the uttermost stars. She saw 
too her father's brother, the wicked uncle, brandish an axe against 
the trees, and her heart trembled within her. But a woodpecker, 

Fig. 18. 

bird of Mars, and a she-wolf, delightful companions in arms, fought 
for the trees and by their aid both palm-trees were unharmed. 

Martia picus avis gemino pro stipite pugnant 
Et lupa. Tuta per hos utraque palma fiiit 1 . 

In her dream Silvia sees her children in tree-shape ; so Althaea 
dreamed of the blazing log that held Meleager's life ; so Clytem- 
naestra dreamed of the snake that was her fatal son. Then we 
have the humanized form of the story. The wicked uncle is 
routed by the comrades in arms, the wolf and woodpecker of Mars. 
The twins are born, and in canonical fashion the order is given 

1 Ovid, Fasti, in. 37. 

104 Magic [ch. 

that they should be drowned. The Tiber shrinks back from 
contact with so much royal mana and leaves the twins on dry 
ground. There they are suckled by — a she- wolf. 

Ovid in his polite way assumes that we shall know a little more 
elementary mythology ; that we shall not forget that the wood- 
pecker too was their foster-nurse, who, though he might not suckle 
them, yet raven-like brought them their daily bread. 

Lacte quis infantes nescit crevisse ferino, 
Et picum expositis saepe tulisse cibos 1 . 

On a denarius 2 of Sextus Pompeius Faustulus (Fig. 18) the scene 
is depicted in full. The she-wolf and the twins; above them the 
sacred fig-tree (Ficus ruminalis), and perched upon it the sacred 

In Rome to-day an old she-wolf still howls in desolation on the 
Capitoline hill ; but there is no woodpecker to make lamentation. 

Picus was an oracular bird, a tree-guardian, a guardian of 
kings ; he was also himself a king, king over a kingdom ancient 
and august. Vergil 3 tells how when iEneas sent his messengers 
to interview the aged Latinus they found him in his house ' stately 
and vast, upreared on an hundred columns, once the palace of 
Laurentian Picus, amid awful groves of ancestral sanctity.' It 
was a place at once palace and temple, befitting the old divine 
king. There each successive king received the inaugural sceptre. 
There was the sacred banqueting hall, where after the sacrifice of 
rams the elders were wont to sit at the long tables. ' There stood 
around in the entry the images of the forefathers of old in ancient 
cedar '—figures some of them faint and impersonal, Italus and 
Sabinus, mere eponyms, but among them figures of flesh and 
blood, primal god-kings, 'gray Saturn and the likeness of Janus 
double-facing,' and — for us most important of all — holding the 
divining rod of Quirinus, girt in the short augural gown, carrying 
on his left arm the sacred shield, Picus the tamer of horses. 
Picus equum domitor, a spleudid climax ; but Picus, the poet 

1 Ovid, Fasti, in. 53. 

2 Babelon, n. 336. The same scene — except that the tree is, oddly, a vine — occurs 
on an antique violet paste at Berlin, published by Iruhoof Blurnner and Otto 
Keller, Tier- unci Pftanzcn-bilder, PI. 21, 15, cf. Furtwangler, Geschnittene Steine 
im Antiq. No. 4379. My attention was drawn to these monuments by the kind- 
ness of Mr A. B. Cook. 

3 JEn. vn. 170 ff. 

iv] Picus and Faunas 105 

knows, is also a spotted pie, a woodpecker. Vergil is past-master 
in the art of gliding over these preposterous orthodoxies. He 
sails serenely on through the story's absurd sequel, the love of 
Circe, her potions, the metamorphosis 1 of the tamer of horses into 
a spotted pie, 

Picus equum domitor, quem capta cupidine conjunx 
Aurea percussum virga, versumque venenis 
Fecit avem Circe, sparsitque coloribus alas, 

and in the solemn splendour of the verbiage one forgets how 
childish is the content. 

Picus holds the lituus, the augur's curved staff; he is girt with 
the short trabea, the augur's robe of purple and scarlet, and he 
carries on his left arm the ancile, the sacred shield borne by the 
Salii. He is a bird, an augur and a king. In Vergil, spite of 
the inevitable bird-end and the augur's dress, Picus is more king 
than bird or even augur ; he remains remote and splendid. Ovid 
however tells us more of what manner of king he was, and the 
revelation is a strauge one. In the third book of the Fasti 2 he 
tells us an odd story about Picus, and tells it with his usual output 
of detailed trivialities, significant and insignificant, which must 
here be briefly resumed. 

Numa, Numa Pompilius be it noted (to the importance of 
the name we shall return later), with the help of Egeria has 
been carrying out his admirable religious reforms. In the grove 
of Aricia, he has been teaching his people the fear of the gods, 
and the rites of sacrifice and libation, and in general he has 
been softening their rude manners. In the midst of all this 
very satisfactory piety down came a fearful thunderstorm, the 
lightning flashed, the rain fell in torrents, fear took possession 
of the hearts of the multitude. Numa consulted Egeria. She 
was no good on her own account, she could not stop the storm, 
but being a wood nymph, and of the old order of things, she knew 

1 The story of how Picus spurned the love of Circe and was turned into a 
woodpecker is told with his customary detail by Ovid, Met. xiv. 6. 

2 vv. 285—348. The story forms part of the whole account of the ceremonies of 
the Salii in March and especially of the origin of the ancilia, the original of which, 
worn by Picus on his left arm, had descended from the sky at sunrise in a thunder- 
storm. The ancilia will be discussed later, p. 196. 


106 Magic [ch 

it could be stopped, and better still who could do it — Picus and 

Fauuus, ancient divinities of the soil. 

piabile fulmen 
Est ait et saevi flectitur ira Jovis. 
Sed poterunt ritum Picus Faunusque piandi 
Prodere, Roniani numen uterque soli 1 . 

Ovid swings neatly balanced between two orders, the old and 
the new. The old story is of the thunder (fulmen), a sanctity 
in itself, the vehicle of mana. This fulmen is piabile, you can 
manipulate it magically for your own ends. The new order tells of 
a human-shaped Jove whose weapon is the thunder which he hurls 
in his anger. Clearly he is not wanted here. Numa has just 
been teaching his people those rites of fire -sacrifice and libation 
dear to the full-blown anthropomorphic god. The most un- 
reasonable and ungovernable of the Olympians could scarcely have 
chosen such a moment to manifest his ire. Ovid is caught in the 
trap set by his own up-to-date orthodoxy. 

The necessity of dragging in the Olympian Jupiter constantly 
complicates and encumbers the story. Picus and Faunus really 
make the weather, but by Ovid's time Jupiter has got full 
possession of the thunderbolt as his 'attribute.' Old Faunus was 
embarrassed and shook his horns in perplexity as to the etiquette 
of the matter ; he and Picus had their own province, they were 
gods of the fields and the high mountains, but Jupiter must decide 
about his own weapons : 

Di sumus agrestes, et qui dorninemur in altis 
Montibus. Arbitrium est in sua tela Jovi 2 . 

Finally they arrive at a sort of pious, obscurantist compromise : 
they must not meddle with the thunder, but by their spells they 
will induce Jupiter himself to allow himself to be dragged down 
from the sky. He is worshipped as Elicius, he will allow himself 
to be elicited : 

Eliciunt caelo te, Jupiter; unde minores 

Nunc quoque te celebrant, Eliciumque vocant 3 . 

Picus and Faunus are not regular dei like Jove, they are 
numina, spirits, genii, a bird-spirit and a wood-spirit; like the 

1 Fasti, in. 289. 2 Fasti, in. 315. 

3 Fasti, Hi. 327. In all probability as Mr A. B. Cook suggests (Class. Rev. xvil 
1904, p. 270) Jupiter Elicius is really Jupiter of the ilex-tree : but this question 
does not here concern us. 

iv] Picus, Faunas and Idaean Daktyls 107 

Tree-King who watched over the Golden Bough, they haunt 

the dark groves. At the foot of the Aventine was a grove so dim 

it seemed a spirit must dwell there. 

Lucus Aventino suberat niger ilicis umbra 
Quo posses viso dicere, Numen inest 1 . 

Here Picus and Faunus were run to earth, but like the genuine 
old bogey-magicians they were, like Proteus himself, they had to 
be caught and manacled before they would speak. In the best 
accredited fashion, they changed themselves, Plutarch tells us, 
into all manner of monstrous shapes 2 . But caught and bound 
at last they were, and they handed over to Numa the whole 
magician's bag of tricks ; they taught him to foretell the future, 
and most important of all, they taught him the charm, a purifica- 
tion (Kadapnov), against thunderbolts. The charm was in use in 
Plutarch's days; it was pleasantly compounded of onions, hairs, 
and pilchards. 

Picus and Faunus are magicians, medicine-men, and medicine- 
men of a class with which we are already familiar. On this point 
Plutarch 3 is explicit. 'The daemons, Picus and Faunus,' he says, 
' were in some respects (i.e. in appearance) like Satyrs and Panes, 
but in their skill in spells and their magical potency in matters 
idivine they are said to have gone about Italy practising the same 
\arts as those tvho in Greece bore the name of Idaean Daktyls! 

Now at last we are on firm familiar ground. The Daktyls of 
iCrete, the initiates of Idaean Zeus we know, they were the men 
who purified Pythagoras with the thunder-stone 4 and initiated him 
[into the thunder-rites of the Idaean cave. If Picus the Bird- King 
was of their company, small wonder that he could make and 
iunmake the thunder. As we have already seen they were, com- 
Ipared to the Kouretes, a specialized society of sorcerers. Of 
(like nature were the Telchines in Rhodes, of whom Diodorus 5 
says in an instructive passage, ' they are also said to have been 

1 Fasti, in. 295. 

2 Vit. Num. xv. . . .aWdKora. <pdcr /nara /cat <po(3epa rrjs oxf/ews Trpof3a\\ou4vovs...a\\a. 
ire irpoadea wloai troWa tCov fxeWbvrwv Kal t6v eirl rols Kepavvoh €K5i5d^at xadapixov 6s 
TOLeiraL /xexpl vvv 5td Kpofj./xvwi> Kal Tptx&v Kal p.aivd5u)v. 

3 Vit. Num. xv. ...(poirav 8vo daiuopas HIkov Kal Qavvov ' oOs ret ueu &\\a ~Zarvpwv 
if rts r) Ilaciii/ -yeVei -rrpoaeiKaaeie, 8vvd.fJ.ei 5e (pap/xaKuv Kal SetvorriTt rrjs wepl to. 6eia 
yoTjreias Xtyovrai ravrd tois v<f> 'EXX^vwc irpoaayopevdeiaiv 'Idaiois AaKrvXots ao<pii'6- 
aevoi irepuivai ttjv 'lraXlav. 

4 See supra, p. 56. 5 v. 55. 3. 

108 Magic [ch. 

magicians (767/Te?), and to have had the power of inducing at their 
will clouds and rain-showers and hail, and they could also draw 
down snow, and it is said that they could do these things just like 
the rnagi. And they could change their shapes and they were 
jealous in the matter of teaching their arts.' In this 'jealousy' 
we see the note of a secret society. 

In the story of Numa's dealings with Picus and Faunus we 
have the clearest possible reflection and expression of the conflict 
of new and old, and further of the inextricable confusion caused 
by obscurantist attempts at reconciling the irreconcilable. In 
the old order you, or rather your medicine-king, made the weather 
magically by spells; in the new order you prayed or offered gift- 
sacrifice to an anthropoid god, a sky-god, Zeus or Jupiter, and left 
the issue confidently in his hands. Plutarch 1 is loud in his praises 
of the way that Numa hung all his hopes on ' the divine.' When 
news was brought that the enemy was upon him, Numa smiled 
and said, ' But I am offering burnt sacrifice.' Plutarch is no 
exception. For some reason not easy to divine, mankind has 
always been apt to regard this attitude of serene and helpless 
dependence as peculiarly commendable. 

Numa is Numa Pompilius and his gentile name tells us that 
he was not only an innovator, but an interloper, a conqueror. 
Umbrians, Sabellians and Oscans, tribes who came in upon the 
indigenous people of Italy from the north are labializers 2 ; their 
king is not Numa Quinquilius, but Numa Pompilius. The wor- 
shippers of Picus, the Woodpecker medicine-king, were, as Denys 
tells us, aborigines. These northerners, though originally of the 
same stock, had passed into a different and it may be a higher 
phase of development, they had passed from spell to prayer, from 
sacrament to gift-sacrifice. They came back again into the plains 
of Italy as the Achaeans came into iEgean Greece, bringing a full- 
blown anthropoid sky-god, Jupiter. They found a people still i 
the magical stage ruled over by a medicine-king 3 , Picus. 


1 Vit. Num. XV. olvtov de rbv Nofxav ovtcj <pa<jiv eh to deiov avriprijcrdai reus i\wi<T< 
ware kcu TrpoaayyeXias avrui wore yevo/jLevris dis iiripxovTO.1 noXifuoi fxeidiacrat. Kai eiire 
'E7C0 8i dvw. 

- 1 follow Prof. Ridgeway, Who were the Romans? Proceedings of the British 
Academy, vol. in. 1907. 

a I borrow the term from Professor Gilbert Murray. The expression ' divine- 
king' is as he has clearly shown (Anthropology and the Classics, p. 77) misleading, 

iv] Weather-daemon and Olympian 109 

The indigenous weather-daemon Picas and the incoming 
thunderer Jupiter have similar and therefore somewhat incom- 
patible functions ; it is inevitable that their relations will be 
somewhat strained, a modus vivendi has to be found. One of two 
things will happen. If you are a mild, peace-loving Pelasgian with 
a somewhat obscurantist mind, you will say, 'Ah! here are two 
great powers, Picus and Jupiter or Zeus, doing the same great 
work, making the rain to fall, the sun to shine, commanding the 
thunder; Picus' has 'entered the service of Zeus,' Picus is 'the son 
of Zeus,' Picus is 'a title of Zeus 1 ,' or best of all, are they not both 
one and the same?' Picus himself, according to the Byzantine 
syncretizers, knew that he was really Zeus. ' When he had handed 
over the western part of his kingdom he died at the age of 120, 
and when he was dying he gave orders that his body should be 
deposited in the island of Crete, and that there should be an 
inscription : 

Here lies dead the Woodpecker who also is Zeus 2 . ' 

But it may be that you are of sterner mould and of conquering 
race, that you are an incoming intransigent Achaean ; you come 
down into Thessaly and find the indigenous Salmoneus or it may be 
Kapaneus at Thebes making thunder and lightning with his rain- 
birds and water-pails and torches. What ! An earthly king, a 
mortal man, presume to mock Zeus' thunder ! Impious wretch, 
let him perish, blasted by the divine inimitable bolt: 

Demens ! qui nimbos et non imitabile fulmen 
Aere et cornipedurn pulsu situularet equorum 3 . 

The racial clash and conflict is interesting, and in dealing 
with the story of Picus as told by Ovid some mention of it was 
inevitable, but our business for the present lies solely with the 
development of the lower indigenous stratum. In the figure of 
Picus are united, or rather as yet undifferentiated, notions, to us 
incompatible, of bird, seer-magician, king and daimon, if not god. 
The daimon as we have already seen with respect to the Kouros 

Kings were not deified because there were as yet no dei. The medicine-king is 
; predeistic, but possessed of those powers which later and more cultured ages have 
I relegated to the 'gods.' 

1 Cf. such titles as Zeus Amphiaraos. 

2 Suidas, s.v. IlrjKos' 
ivddde Keirai davwv . . .Urjicos 6 ko.1 Zetfs. 

3 Verg. Mn. vi. 590. 

110 Magic [ch. 

and the Bacchos is but the reflection, the collective emphasis, of 
a social emotion. The Kouretes utter themselves in their Greatest 
Kouros, the Woodpecker-Magicians in the Woodpecker, Picus. 
When the group dissolves and the links that bound leader and 
group together are severed, then Picus will become a god, unless 
his figure be effaced by some conquering divinity. 

Finally Picus enshrines a beautiful lost faith, the faith that 
birds and beasts had mana other and sometimes stronger than 
the mana of man. The notion that by watching a bird you 
can divine the weather is preceded by the far more primitive 
notion that the bird by his mana actually makes the weather, 
makes and brings the rain, the thunder, the sunshine and the 
spring. Beasts and birds in their silent, aloof, goings, in the 
perfection of their limited doings are mysterious still and wonder- 
ful. We speak of zoomorphic or theriomorphic or ornithomorphic 
gods, but again we misuse language. Birds are not, never were, 
gods ; there is no definite bird-cult, but there are an infinite 
number of bird-sanctities. Man in early days tries to bring 
himself into touch with bird-??itma, he handles reverently bird- 

There are many ways in which man could participate in 
bird-mcma. He could, and also ruthlessly did, eat the bird. 
Porphyry 1 says those who wish to take unto themselves the spirits 
of prophetic animals swallow the most effective parts of them, 
such as the hearts of crows and moles and hawks. It is not that 
you eat a god-bird, it is that you participate in a substance full 
of a special quality or mana. 

Scarcely less efficacious, you can wear the skin of the animal 
whose mana you want, and notably the feathers of a bird. The 
--Carthaginian priestess 2 , whose image sculptured on a sarcophagos 
is reproduced in Fig. 19, wore a bird-robe, the robe of the 
Egyptian goddess Isis-Nephthys. The goddess was but the 
humanized, deified form of the holy bird. The body of the 
priestess is enfolded by the bird's two wings. The bird-head 
appears above the headdress, and in her right hand she holds 

1 de Abst. n. 48. See my Prolegomena, p. 487. 

- First published by Miss M. Moore, Carthage of the Phenicians, 1905, frontispiece 
in colour, and reproduced here by kind permission of Mr W. Heinemann. 




a bird. She is all bird. The colouring of the feathers is 
a dark vivid blue and the 
colourless reproduction gives 
but a slight idea of the 
beauty of the bluebird- 

The wearing of bird- 
robes and bird-headdresses 
with magical intent goes 
on to-day among primitive 
peoples. Among the Tara- 
humares now-a-days a sha- 
man may be seen at feasts 
wearing the plumes of birds, 
and through these plumes 
it is thought the wise birds 
impart ail they know 1 . Like 
Teiresias, like Mopsos, like 
Melampos, like Kassandra, 
these shamans understand 
the speech of birds. A little 
bird tells them. 

Further you can secure ^ 
much bird-raana by a bird- 
dance. These same Tarahu- / 
mares assert that their 
dances have been taught 
them by animals. Animals 
they hold are not inferior 
creatures ; they practise 
magic. The deer and the 
turkey dance in spring, the 
birds sing and the frogs 
croak to induce the gods 
to let. it rain. Here it is 
evident we are in a transi- 
tion stage ; gods are already Fig. 19. 

1 C. Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico, vol. i. p. 313. For the general attitude of 
primitive man towards birds, see E. J. Payne, History of America, n. p. 161, and 
especially M c Dougall, Journ. Anthrop. Inst. 1901, xxxi. pp. 173—213. 

112 Magic [ch. 

developed, but it is the turkey and the deer who do the real 
work, the dancing, for, among the Tarahumares, dancing, noldova, 
means literally to ' work.' Their two principal dances are the 
Yumari and the Rutuburi. The Yumari, which was older, was 
taught to the people by the deer. The words sung at the 
Rutuburi dance show clearly the magical intent 1 . After a. short 
prelude the song begins 2 : 

The water is near; 

Fog is resting on the mountain and on the mesa, 

The Blue bird sings and whirs in the trees, and 

The Male "Woodpecker is calling on the Uano ; 

Where the fog is rising. 

The large Swift is making his dashes through the evening air; 

The rains are close at hand. 

When the Swift is darting through the air he makes his whizzing 

humming noise. 
The Blue Squirrel ascends the tree and whistles. 
The plants will be growing and the fruit will be ripening, 
And when it is ripe it falls to the ground. 
It falls because it is so ripe. 

The flowers are standing up, waving in the wind. 
The Turkey is playing, and the Eagle is calling ; 
Therefore, the time of rains will soon set in. 

The dance goes on for hours. It is danced on one of the patios 
or level dancing-places where the Tarahumare performs all his 
religious exercises. The dance is performed in the open air 
ostensibly that the principal divinities of the people, Father-Sun 
and Mother- Moon, may see it and be induced to send rain ; but, as 
there is no mention whatever of either Father-Sun or Mother- 
Moon, it is probable that the service of the magical birds preceded 
that of these Tarahumaran Olympians. 

It is of course not only birds who teach man to dance, there 
are steruer potencies whose gait and gestures it is well to imitate. 
The Grizzly Bear dance of the North American Indians is thus 
described 3 . The drummers assemble and chant 'I begin to grow 
restless in the spring,' and they represent the bear making ready 
to come from his winter den. Then 'Lone Chief drew his robe 

1 Carl Lumholtz, Unknoivn Mexico, vol. i. p. 330. 

2 It is probable that the various bird-dances of the ancients had the like magical 
intent, e.g. the dances called y\av^ (Athen. xiv. 629) and a-Kuj\f/ (Athen. ix. 391) and 
the famous ytpavos (Plut. Thes. xxi. ). Mr D'Arcy Thompson says (s.v.) that the 
dancing of cranes may be seen in the opening of the year in any zoological 

1 W. McClintock, The Old North Trail, p. 264. 

iv] Mana of Birds 113 

about him and arose to dance imitating the bear going from his 
den and chanting : 

I take my robe, 

My robe is sacred, 

I wander in the summer. 

' Lone Chief ' imitated with his hands a bear holding up its paws 
and placing his feet together he moved backward and forward 
with short jumps, making the lumbering movements of a bear, 
running, breathing heavily and imitating his digging and turning 
over stones for insects. 

Any bird or beast or fish, if he be good for food, or if in any 
way he arrest man's attention as fearful or wonderful, may become 
sacred, that is, may be held to be charged with special mana ; but, 
of all living creatures, birds longest keep their sanctity. They 
come and go where man and beast cannot go, up to the sun, high 
among the rain clouds; their flight is swift, their cries are strange 
and ominous, yet they are near to man ; they perch on trees, yet 
they feed on earth-worms ; they are creatures half of Gaia, half of 
Ouranos. Long after men thought of and worshipped the gods 
in human shape they still remembered the ancieut Kingdom of 
the Birds. On the archaic patera 1 in Fig. 53, p. 207, is depicted the 
sacrifice of a bull — it may be at the Bouphonia. Athena is present 
as Promachos with shield and uplifted spear. Behind her is the 
great snake of Mother Earth which she took over, in front on a 
stepped altar where the fire blazes is a holy bird. What bird is 
intended is uncertain ; assuredly no owl, but perhaps a crow, 
though Aristotle 2 says no crow ever entered the Acropolis at 
Athens. At Korone, Crow Town, there was a bronze statue of 
Athena holding a crow in her hand 3 . 

We do not associate Artemis with any special bird, still less 
do we imagine her in bird-form ; she is altogether to us the human 
maiden. Yet we know of the winged, or, as she used to be called, 
the ' Persian ' Artemis, with her high curved wings. The recent 
excavations of the British School at Sparta have taught us that 

1 Brit. Mus. Cat. b 405, C. Smith, J.H.S. i. p. 202, PL m., and see my Ancient 
Athens, p. 289, Fig. 30. 

2 Frg. 324. 

3 Paus. iv. 34. 6 ; for the relation of Athens to the crow and the enmity of crow 
and owl see Dr Frazer's note on Paus. n. 11. 7, and for crow superstitions, Kopuvia- 
\fiara, etc., see D'Arcy Thompson, op. cit., s.v. KopAvr). 

H. 8 




these wings are not oriental, and not even mere attributes of 
swiftness, they are just survivals of an old bixd-form On the 
carved ivory fibula in Fig. »>, from the sanctuary of Orth a, we 
see the primitive goddess who went to the making of Artemis. 
She has hi^h curved wings, and she grasps by the neck two water- 
^tholwelt in her Eimnae. On one of the fkdm two birds 
are also perched on her shoulders: she is all bird. 

Fig. 20. 

The Greeks early shrank from monstrosities, and our hand- 
books tell us it is because of the sureness and delicacy of their 
instinctive taste. But a hybrid form is not necessarily ugly; 1 
a v be of great imaginative beauty. There are Egyptian statues 
of he ram-headed Knum, more solemn, more religious han any 
human Zens the Greeks have left us. In Fig. 21° we have the 
Se Thunder-God Zin-Shin, half bird half man as the Greeks 

. Eeproduced by kind pema-non f™ »• * skins' Laconia, Sparta i, 
•"fc^SEHftS 5S£ta of Mes™ UacmilUn from W. Sia,p,o„, To, 
Baddhitt Praying Wheel 1896, Fig. 41. 


Sanctity of Birds 


themselves imagined but feared to picture Zeus. He is fantastic 
and beautiful with his wings and eagle beak and claws, riding the 
clouds in his circle of heavenly thunder-drums. The Greeks had 
just the same picture in their minds — a bird-god, a cloud-god, 

Fig. 21. 

a thunder-god — but they dare not adventure it all together, so 
they separate off the ' attributes ' ; rationalists as they are they 
divide and distinguish, and give us pictures like the lovely coins 
of Elis (Fig. 22). But there is loss as well as gain. 

Fig. 22. 

With this primitive sanctity of birds rather than their definite 
divinity in our minds, much that is otherwise grotesque becomes 
simple and beautiful — Bird-bridegrooms, Bird-parentages, Egg- 
cosmogonies, Bird-metamorphoses. We no longer wonder that 

]— 2 

116 Magic [ch. 

Trochilos the Wren is father of Triptolemos, that Ion is son of 
Xouthos the twitterer, himself the son of Aiolos the Lightning, nor 
that the Kouretes have for their mother Kombe the Crow. Bird- 
metamorphoses cease to be grotesque because they are seen not 
to be metamorphoses at all — only survivals misunderstood of the 
old Bird-sanctities. 

The heavenly swan woos Leda, and Nemesis in the form of a 
swan flies before the swan-god 1 . When Aidos and Nemesis leave 
miserable mortals to their sins and sorrows, they do on their 
swan bodies 2 once again and fly up to Olympus, their fair flesh 
hidden in white and feathery raiment, to the kingdom of the 
deathless ones — the birds. To that same quiet kingdom the 
chorus of the Hippolytus 3 , strained to breaking-point by the 
passion of Phaedra, will escape. 

Could I take me to some cavern for mine hiding 
In the hill-tops where the Sun scarce hath trod, 

Or a cloud make the home of mine abiding 
As a bird among the bird-droves of God ! 

In far-off savage Tauri the leader of the chorus of Greek 
maidens, bird-haunted, remembers the bird and tree-sanctuary at 
Delos, where dwells the sacred swan-bird of the sun-god, and, 
halcyon-like, she sings 4 : 

Sister, I too beside the sea complain, 

A bird that hath no wing. 
Oh for a kind Greek market-place again, 
For Artemis that healeth woman's pain ; 

Here I stand hungering. 
Give me the little hill above the sea, 
The palm of Delos fringed delicately, 
The young sweet laurel and the olive-tree 

Grey-leaved and glimmering; 
Isle of Leto, Isle of pain and love, 
The Orbed Water and the spell thereof, 
Where still the Swan, minstrel of things to be, 

Doth serve the Muse and sing. 

1 See Eoscher, s.v. Nemesis. 

2 This, considering the swan-form of Nemesis, must, I think, be the meaning of 
Hesiod, Op. 200 

XevKOtcnv (papeeaat KoKvipafiivw xpb a ko\6i>. 
For these ' femmes cygnes ' and the way they doff and do on their ' chemises de 
cygne' see S. Reinach, 'Les Theoxenies et le vol des Dioscures,' in Cultes, Mythes 
et Religions, n. p. 55, though M. Reinach is not responsible for my interpretation 
of Hesiod. 

3 Eur. Hipp. 732. 

4 Eur. Iph. in T. 1095. 

iv] Sanctity of Birds 117 

In the last two chapters we have seen that magic takes its 
rise, not only or chiefly in any mistaken theory, but in a thing 
done, a Spco/xevov, predone. We have further passed in review, in 
unavoidable fusion and confusion, three stages of magical develop- 
ment ; we have seen magic as open and public, an affair of the 
tribe, we have seen it as the work of a specialized group, and last, 
as the work of an individual medicine-man or medicine-king. 
Further, we have seen the magical efficacy of birds, as first making, 
and then foretelling, the weather. Finally we have seen, in the 
figure of Picus, the strange blend of bird-magician and human 
king. The cause of these various stages of magic, and the social 
conditions underlying the fusion of man and bird or beast will be 
examined in the next chapter, when we come to the question of 
sacrifice and the social, totemistic conditions that underlay it. 

This brings us to the second rite in the Kouretic initiation of 
a Bacchos, the omophagia. 

Picus Martius. 


'What meanest thou by this word Sacrament?' 

We have seen how the mystic, at his initiation by the 
Kouretes, 'accomplished the Thunders.' Another rite remains, 
more dread and, to our modern thinking 1 , utterly repugnant. 
Before he can become a Bacchos, the candidate must have 
Fulfilled his red and bleeding feasts 2 . 

The omophagia or Eating of Raw Flesh was a rite not confined 
to the Kouretic initiation of a Bacchos. We meet it again in the 
Thracian worship of Dionysos. The Bacchae when they recount 
■to vofuo-Oevra, their accustomed rites, sing the glory and 

joy of the quick red fountains, 
The blood of the hill-goat torn 3 . 

The Bacchoi in Crete eat of a bull, the Bacchae in Thrace and 
Macedon of a hill-goat ; the particular animal matters little, the 
essential is that there should be a communal feast of Raw Flesh, 
a Scu<? co/MO(f)dyo<;. 

Physically repugnant the rite must always be to our modern 
taste, which prefers to cook its goats and bulls before eating them ; 
but our moral repugnance disappears, or at least suffers profound 
modification, when the gist of the rite is understood. What 
specially revolts us is that the tearing and eating of bulls and 

1 Plutarch in his de defect, oracul. raises a horrified protest. See my Prolegomena, 
p. 484. 

2 rds t d>fJLO<payov$ oatras reXecros. 

3 Eur. Bacch. 135 

7J5i)s ev 6pe<riv... 

alfia TpayoKrbvov, w/j.o<}>ayov X c ty , "'• 

ch. v] The Group and the Totem 119 

goats should be supposed to be a sacrifice pleasing to a god. We 
naturally feel that from the point of view of edification the less 
said about the worship of such gods the better. Nor is our moral 
sense appeased if we are told that the sacrifice is a sacrament, 
that the bull or goat torn and eaten is the god himself, of whose 
life the worshippers partake in sacramental communion. In thus 
interpreting ancient rites we bring our own revolting horrors with 
us. The omophagia was part of a religion, that is a system oi 1 
sanctities, that knew no gods ; it belongs to a social organization 
that preceded theology. The origin of sacrifice and sacrament 
alike can only be understood in relation to the social structure 
and its attendant mode of thinking from whence it sprang — 
totemism. Only in the light of totemistic thinking can it be 
made clear why, to become a Bacchos, the candidate must partake a- 
of a sacrament of Raw Flesh. 

'Totemism,' Dr Frazer 1 says — and we cannot do better than adopt his" 
definition — ' is an intimate relation which is supposed to exist between a 
group of kindred people on the one side and a species of natural or artificial 
objects on the other side, which objects are called the totems of the human,, 
group.' ' 

We observe at the outset that totemism has two notes or 
characteristics : it has to do with a group not an individual, and 
that group is in a peculiar relation to another group of natural 
and occasionally of artificial objects. 

It is of the utmost importance that we should be clear as to 
the first note or characteristic, i.e. that totemism has to do with a 
group. In Dr Frazer's earlier work on totemism, published in 
1887, his definition ignored the human group. It reads as follows 2 : 

A totem is a class of material objects which a savage regards with super- 
stitious respect, believing that there exists between him and every member of 
the class an intimate and altogether special relation. 

In this earlier definition, it will be noted, a class of objects is 
regarded as in relation to an individual savage : in the later to 
a group of men. 

As to the importance of the group, the word totem, it would 
seem, speaks for itself. It means, not plant or animal, but simply 

1 Totemism and Exogamy, 1910, vol. iv. p. 3. 

2 J. G. Frazer, Totemism, 1887, p. 1. The italics are our own. This mono- 
graph is reprinted without alteration in vol. i. of Dr Frazer's great work Totemism 
and Exogamy. 

120 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

tribe. Various forms of the word are given by various authorities. 
The Rev. Peter Jones, himself an Ojibway, gives toodaim. Francis 
Assikinack, an Ottawa Indian, gives ododam. The Abbe Thavenal 
says the word is properly ote in the sense of ' family or tribe,' the 
possessive of which is otem. He adds that the Indians use ote in 
the sense of ' mark ' (limited, Dr Frazer 1 says, apparently to family 
mark), but he argues that the word must mean 'family or tribe,' in 
some sense 'group.' 

This simple, familiar and, we believe, undisputed fact that 
totem means ' tribe or group ' has not we think been sufficiently 
emphasized. The totem-animal, it has long been admitted, is 
not an individual animal, it is the whole species. This at once 
delimits the totem, even when it is an artificial object, from the 
fetich. The fetich is never a class. But, though the group- 
character of the totem-animal is admitted, the correlative truth, 
that it is the human group, not the human individual that is 
related to the totem, has been left vague. Hence all the con- 
troversy as to whether the individual totem is prior to the group- 
totem or vice versa, whether or not the guardian animal or spirit 
of the individual precedes the totem-animal. Hence also the 
significance of Dr Frazer's 2 modification of his original definition, 
his substitution of the words ' group of kindred people ' for 'a 

First and foremost then in totemism is the idea of the unity of 
a group. Next comes the second note or characteristic ; this 
human group is in a special relation to another group — this time 
of non-human objects. In far the greater number of cases these 
non-human objects are animals and plants, occasionally meteoric 
objects, sun, moon, rain, stars, and still more rarely artificial 
objects, nets or spears 3 . 

This relation between the human and the non-human group is 
so close as to be best figured by kinship, unity of blood, and is 

1 Totemism, 1887, p. 1, note 6. 

2 Facts have forced upon Dr Frazer this modification — and to facts he always 
yields ungrudging obedience — but I cannot help thinking that, as he nowhere calls 
attention to this modification, the full significance of these facts escapes him, 
otherwise he would not base his new theory of totemism on the chance error of 
individual women. See Totemism and Exogamy, iv. p. 57. 

3 Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, i. p. 4. 

v] Psychology of Totemism 121 

expressed in terms of actual identity 1 . A Central Australian 
pointing to a photograph of himself will say, ' That one is just the 
same as me,' so is a kangaroo (his totem). We say the Central 
Australian ' belongs to the kangaroo tribe ' ; he knows better, he is 
kangaroo. Now it is this persistent affirmation of primitive man 
in the totemistic stage that he is an animal or a plant, that he is 
a kangaroo or an opossum or a witchetty grub or a plum tree, 
that instantly arrests our attention, and that has in fact obscured 
the other and main factor in totemism, the unity of the human 
group. The human group we understand and realize to a certain 
extent. Man, we know, is gregarious, he thinks and feels as a 
group. So much our latter-day parochialism or patriotism or 
socialism may help us to imagine. It is the extension of the 
group to include those strange tribesmen, plants, animals and 
stones, that staggers us 2 . 'What,' we ask, 'does the savage mean by 
being one, identical with them ? Why does he persistently affirm 
and reaffirm that he is a bear, an opossum, a witchetty grub, when 
he quite well knows that he is not ? ' 

Because to know is one thing, to feel is another. Because to 
know is first and foremost to distinguish, to note differences, to 
discern qualities, and thereby to classify. Above all things it is 
to realize the distinction between me and not-me. We all 
remember Tennyson's ' Baby new to earth and sky.' He and 
the savage have never clearly said that ' this is I.' Man in the 
totemistic stage rarely sets himself as individual over against his 
tribe ; he rarely sets himself as man over against the world around . 
him 3 . He has not yet fully captured his individual or his 
human soul, not yet drawn a circle round his separate self. 
It is not that he confuses between himself and a kangaroo ; 
it is that he has not yet drawn the clear-cut outline that 
defines the conception kangaroo from that of man and eternally 
separates them. His mental life is as yet mainly emotional, one 
of felt relations. 

1 See L6vy-Bruhl, Les Fonctions Mentales dans les Societes Inferieures, 1910, 
p. 25. 

2 But not if we become 'as little children.' Mr S. Keinach in his delightful 
Orpheus says of totemism (p. 22), 'Ce respect de la vie d'un animal, d'un vegetal, 
n'est autre chose qu'une exageration, une hypertrophic de l'instinct social. II suffit 
de mener un jeune enfant dans un jardin zoologiqne pour s'assurer que cette 
hypertrophic est tres naturelle a l'homme.' 

3 For an illuminating account of the psychology of this process see the chapter 
on ' Wahrnehmung ' (Perception) in Dr P. Beck's Die Nachahmung, 1904. 

122 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

If we can once think ourselves back into totemistic days we 
shall be rid for ever of an ancient and most pernicons orthodoxy, 
the old doctrine that the religion of primiUve man was anthropo- 
morphic. Facts tell ns that it was not ; that thenomorplnsm and 
phytomorphism came first. Yet the ancient dogma 
Again and again we find the unqualified statement that man 
protects Ms own image on the universe, sees in rt h.s own human 
I peoples all nature with human soul, Totem^m teaches us 
t the contrary ; it is as it were the fossil form of quite anothe 
freed It stands for fusion, for „„»-differentiatmn Man canno 
project his individual self, because that individual self is as yet 
Tpart undivided; he cannot project his indivnlua! human wdl, 
because that human will is felt chiefly as one *rth J* un- 
differentiated mana of the world ; he cannot project hrs mdiv.dual 
soul because that complex thing is as yet not completely 
compounded 1 . 

Totemism, then, is not so much a special social structure as a 

stage in epistemology. It is the reflexion of a very pnmitive 

fasnion in thinking, or rather feeling, the universe, a fefegOej 

realization of which is essential to any understanding of primitive 

religion. It is not a particular blunder and confuse t made by 

certain ignorant savages, but a phase or stage of collective think- 

ng through which the human mind is bound to pass. Its basis is 

group-unity, aggregation, similarity, sympathy, a sense of common 

group Hie, and this sense of common life, this parUnpaUon* tins 

unity is extended to the non-human world in a way which our 

modern, individualistic reason, based on observed distinctions, finds 

almost unthinkable. _ . 

We find totemism unthinkable because it is non-rational. We 
are inclined to make the quite unauthorized assumption that true 
Judgments, i.e. judgments which correspond to observed fact, are 
natural to man. False judgments like totemism we feel are. 
anomalous and need explanation. Man's opinions, his jadgmenM 
we fondly imagine, are based on observation and reason. Just the 
contrary is the case; beliefs of every kind, at least in mans early] 

i The late character of the individual 'soul' will be discussed when we come to 
the question of Hero-Worship in chapter vm. Levv-Bruhl, op. cit. 

a For a full analysis of the primitive idea of participation see Levy uru , F 
chapter n. La loi de participation. 

v] Totemistic Thinking a Stage in Epistemology 123 

stages of development are prior to experience and observation, 
they are due to suggestion. Anything suggested is received 
unless there is strong reason, or rather emotion, to the contrary 1 . 
It is not the acceptance of an opinion, however absurd, that needs 
explanation ; it is its criticism and rejection 2 . Suggest to a savage 
that he has eaten tabooed food, he accepts the suggestion and — 
dies. The strongest form of suggestion is of course the collective 
suggestion of his whole universe, his group, his public opinion. 
Such suggestion will certainly be accepted without question, if it 
appeal to a powerful or pleasing emotion. 

That outlook on the universe, that stage in epistemology which 
we call totemism has its source then not in any mere blunder of 
the individual intellect, but in a strong collective emotion. The 
next question that lies before us is naturally — What is the 
emotion that finds its utterance, its expression, its representation, 
in totemism ? To answer this question we must look at the 
relations of primitive man to his totem. These relations are most 
clearly marked and will be best understood in that large majority 
of cases where the totem is an edible plant or animal. 

As a rule a savage abstains from eating his totem, whether 
plant or animal : his totem is tabu to him ; to eat it would be 
disrespectful, even dangerous. An Ojibway who had unwittingly 
killed a bear (his totem) described how, on his way home after 
the accident, he was attacked by a large bear who asked him why 
he had killed his totem. The man explained, apologised, and 
was dismissed with a caution 3 . This tabu on the eating of a totem 
is natural enough. The man is spiritually, mystically, akin to his 
totem, and as a rule you do not eat your relations. But this tabu 
is in some parts of the world qualified by a particular and very 
interesting injunction. A man may not as a rule eat of his totem, 
but at certain times and under certain restrictions a man not only 

1 W. James, Principles of Psychology, n. p. 319, 'the primitive impulse is to 
affirm immediately the reality of all that is conceived,' 'we acquire disbelief,' and 
p. 299, 'we believe as much as we can.' 

2 This important point has been well brought out in an article in the Edinburgh 
Review (vol. ccx. p. 106) on Fallacies and Superstitions. The anonymous writer 
reminds us that the writer of the Problems attributed to Aristotle (6, p. 891, a. 7), 
raised the question ' why do men cough and cows do not?' a difficulty he might have 
spared himself had his judgments been based on observation. 

3 Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, i. p. 10. 


124 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

may, but must, eat of his totem, though only sparingly 1 , as of a 
ithing sacro-sanct. This eating of the totem is closely connected 
with its ceremonial multiplication. You abstain from your totem 
as a rule because of its sanctity, i.e. because it is a great focus of 
mana ; you eat a little with infinite precautions because you want 
that mana and seek its multiplication. This double-edged atti- 
tude towards things sacred lies, as we shall later see, at the very 
foundation of the ideas both of sacrament and sacrifice. 

The totem-animal is in general the guardian and protector of 
its human counterpart, but the relation is strictly mutual ; the 
animal depends on the man as the man on the animal. This 
comes out very clearly in the Intichiuma ceremonies performed 
by the Central Australian tribes 2 . By Intichiuma are meant 
magical ceremonies performed by members of a totem-group to 
induce the multiplication of the totem. As a typical instance we 
may take the ceremonies of the Emu totem. 

When men of the Emu totem desire to multiply emus they set about it 
as follows. Several of the men open veins in their arms and allow the blood 
to stream on the ground till a patch about three yards square is saturated 
with it. When the blood is dry it forms a hard surface on which the men of 
the totem paint in white, red, yellow and black a design intended to represent 
various parts of the emu, .such as the fat, of which the natives are very fond, 
the eggs in various stages of development, the intestines, and the feathers. 
Further, several men of the totem, acting the part of ancestors of the Emu 
clan, dress themselves up to resemble emus and imitate the movements and 
aimless gazing about of the bird ; on their heads are fastened sacred sticks 
{churinga) about four feet long, and tipped with emu feathers, to represent 
the long neck and small head of the emu 3 . 

The ceremony has really, like all Intichiuma ceremonies, two 
main elements : (1) the shedding of the blood of the human Emu, 
and (2) his counterfeit presentment of the bird-Emu. The human 
blood helps out the animal life, renews, invigorates it ; the man, 
by dressing up as the Emu and making pictures of it, increases 
his mystic sympathy and communion. In the ceremony for pro- 
moting the Witch etty Grub a long narrow structure of boughs is 
got ready. It represents the chrysalis from which the full-grown 
insect emerges. Into this structure the men of the Witchetty 
Grub totem, painted over with the device of the totem in red 
ochre and pipe clay, each in turn enter and sing of the grub in its 

1 Frazer, op. cit. iv. p. 6. 

- Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes of Central Australia, chapter vi., Intichiuma 

3 Frazer, op. cit. i. p. 106. 

v] Totemistic Thinking based on Group-unity 125 

various stages of development. They then shuffle out one by one 
with a gliding motion to indicate the emergence of the insect 1 . 
They enact, they represent their own union and communion, their 
identity with their totem, and thereby somehow intensify its life 
and productiveness. At the back of the whole grotesque perform- 
ance lies, not so much a mistaken ratiocination, but an intense 
desire for food, issuing in a vivid representation. 

Totemism and totemistic ceremonies and ways of thinking are 
based, we have seen, on group-emotion, on a sense of solidarity, of 
oneness. No distinction is felt between the human and non- 
human members of the totem-group, or rather, to be more exact, 
the beginning of a distinction is just dawning. The magical 
ceremonies, the shedding of the human blood, the counterfeiting 
of the animal, have for their object to bridge the gulf that is just 
opening, to restore by communion that complete unity which is 
just becoming conscious of possible division. The ceremonies are 
however still intensely sympathetic and cooperative ; they are, as 
the Greeks would say, rather methektic than mimetic, the expres- 
sion, the utterance, of a common nature participated in, rather 
than the imitation of alien characteristics. The Emu man still 
feels he is an Emu ; the feathers he puts on, the gait he emulates, 
are his own, not another's. 

But, strong though the sense of group-unity is in Totemism, 
the rift has begun. Totemism means not only unity of one group, 
but also disparity from other groups. The Emu men are one 
among themselves, and one with the Emu birds, but they are 
alien to the Witchetty Grub men, and have no power to multiply 
Witchetty Grubs — or Kangaroos. Behind the totemistic system 
may lie a pre-totemistic social state 2 , when the tribe was all one, not 
yet broken into totemistic groups. The cause of the severance we 
can only conjecture. Probably it was due to the merely mechanical 
cause of pressure of population. The tribe growing over-populous 
loses coherence and falls asunder by simple segmentation. Once 
that segmentation occurs each half gathers round a nucleus. 

1 Frazer, op. cit. i. p. 106, of how food comes to be. 

2 I am indebted for this idea to views expressed by Mr A. R. Brown in a course 
of lectures delivered in 1909 at Trinity College, Cambridge. Mr Brown suggested 
that the Andaman Islanders and the Esquimaux were perhaps instances of pre- 
totemistic peoples. 

126 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

We then have forces at work not only of attraction, but of repul- 
sion ; union is intensified through disunion. This double force 
which makes and remakes society Empedocles 1 saw reflected in 
his cosmos : 

A two-fold tale I tell thee. At one time 
The One grew from the many. Yet again 
Division was — the many from the one. 

And these things never cease, but change for ever. 
At one time all are joined and all is Love, 
And next they fly asunder, all is Strife. 

Now that we realize a little what totemism is, we are able to 
understand much better the various stages and developments of 
magic and also something of the relation of magic to religion. 
The totem-group when it perforins its rites of multiplication has 
indeed some dawning sense of differentiation, but its main emotion 
and conviction is of unity, emotional unity with its totem, a unity 
which it emphasizes and enhances and reintegrates by its cere- 
monies of sympathy. The whole human group acts and reacts on 
the whole plant or animal group, the mana of the human and the 
animal group is felt as continuous. This is the first stage. But 
as intelligence advances and as actual individual observation tends 
to take the place of collective suggestion, the sense of unity is 
obscured. Little by little the attention is focused on distinctions. 
Man, though he is dressed up as an emu, becomes more and more 
conscious that he is not an emu, but that he is imitating an emu, 
a thing in some respects alien to himself, a thing possessed of 
much mana, but whose mana is separate, a thing to be acted on, 
controlled, rather than sympathetically reinforced. Then, as the 
Greek would say, fxkde^ gives place to /j,lfj,r)ais, participation to 
imitation 2 . 

Any dawning sense of distinction between the human and the 
animal member of the group is like a traitor in the very heart of 
the citadel. But custom is strong, and totemistic rites go on long 

1 Diels, Frg. 17, p. 177 

5t7r\' epew rore fxev yap $v Tjv^ffT] fibvov elvcu 
4k ir\e6vu)i>, Tore 5' a.5 die<pv nXeov' e£ evos elvai 

(cat rauT' dWdaffovra dia/jnrepes ovdafia \rjyei, 
&\\ot€ fxev <$>i\6tt]ti ffvvepxouev' et's eV awavra, 
dXXore 5' av 5ix eKacra (popevfxeva Heineo? ex^ e£> 

2 The analogy of the Greek p.£6e!;is was pointed out to me by Mr F. M. Cornford. 

v] Gradual Segregation of God and Worshipper 127 

after that faith in unity, in consubstantiality, which is of its essence, 
is dying or even dead. The stages of its death are gradual. The 
whole group ceases to carry on the magical rite, which becomes 
the province of a class of medicine-men ; the specialized Kouretes, 
as we have seen, supplant the whole body of Kouroi. Finally the 
power is lodged in an individual, a head medicine-man, a king 
whose functions are at first rather magical than political. 

As the wielder of the power becomes specialized and indi- 
vidualized, his power becomes generalized. In primitive totemistic 
conditions the Emu man, by virtue of his common life, his common 
mana, controlled, or rather sympathetically invigorated, Emus ; 
but his power was limited to Emus. Once the totemistic system 
begins to break down, this rigid departmentalism cannot be kept 
up. The band of magicians, and later the individual medicine- 
man or medicine-king began to claim control over the food 
supply and over fertility in general, and also over the weather, on 
which, bit by bit, it is seen that the food supply depends. The 
medicine-king tends towards, though he never attains, complete 

One other point remains to be observed. 

' It is a serious though apparently a common mistake,' says Dr Frazer 1 , 
'to speak of a totem as a god and say that it is worshipped by the clan. In 
pure totemism, such as we tind it among the Australian aborigines, the totem 
is never a god, and is never worshipped. A man no more worships his totem 
and regards it as his god than he worships his father and mother, his brother 
and his sister, and regards them as gods.' 

The reason why pure totemism cannot be a system of worship 
is now abundantly clear. Worship involves conscious segregation 
of god and worshipper. The very idea of a god, as we have seen 
in the case of the Kouros and the Bacchos, belongs to a later stage 
of epistemology, a stage in which a man stands off from his own 
imagination, looks at it, takes an attitude towards it, sees it as 
object. Worship connotes an object of worship. Between totemism 
and worship stands the midway stage of magic. Magic in its 
more elementary forms we have already seen in considering the 
Thunder-Rites. Two later developments have now to be examined, 
developments closely analogous, Sacramental Communion and 

1 Totemism and Exogamy, 1910, vol. iv. p. 5. 

128 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

Before entering on this enquiry we must however pause for a 
moment. We have assumed so far that totemism lies behind Greek 
religion, and that Greek religion can only be rightly understood 
on this assumption. The assumption is not so bold as it may 
seem. We do not claim for Greece a fully developed totemistic 
social system, but rather that totemistic habit of thought, which 
is, we believe, common to all peoples in an early phase of their 
epistemology 1 . Totemism, we have tried to show, is to our mind 
a habit of collective thinking based on collective emotion. The 
main characteristic of such thinking is union, or rather lack of 
differentiation, of subject and object. This lack of differentiation, 
this felt union, shows itself in many ways, and chiefly in one 
salient example, the belief in the identity of groups of human 
beings with groups of animals or plants. In practice, that is in 
ritual, totemism finds its natural development in the manipulation 
of the spiritual continuum, in magic. 

This habit of collective thinking, this lack of differentiation 2 
is, we believe, characteristic not of one race, but of all races at a 
given stage of their mental development. It is further, I believe, 
the characteristic of Greek religion that it emerged early from the 
totemistic magical stage. The Greeks were a people who drew 
clear-cut outlines and sharp distinctions. But we cannot under- 
stand this rapid emergence unless we understand from what they 
emerged. Very early the Greeks shed their phytomorphic and 
theriomorphic gods. With strong emphasis by the mouth of 
Pindar- they insist that a god be clearly and impassably delimited 
from man. Have we any evidence of the earlier stage of thought 
against which the protest is raised ? Are there in Greek mythology 
or Greek cultus definite traces of totemistic unification ? 

1 Such a system probably only occurs sporadically where man's progress in 
epistemology has been arrested and the social structure crystallizes. Since writing 
the above I am delighted to find that my conjecture, which might appear hazardous, 
has been anticipated by Mr A. B. Cook He writes (J.H.S. xiv. 1894, 157) 'On the 
whole I gather that the Mycenaean worshippers were not totemists pure and single 
but that the mode of their worship points to its having been developed out of still 
earlier totemism.' 

2 For an analysis of primitive mentality, see Levy-Bruhl, Les Fonctions Mentales 
dans les Societes Inferieures, 1910. 

3 01. v. 58 nv fj.arev- 

arj debs yeviadai. 
and Isth. v. 20 

dvara dvaroccri Trpiwei. 
See my Prolegomena, p. 477. 

v] Survivals of Totemistic Thinking in Greece 129 

The people of the island of Seriphos would not for the most 
part use lobsters for food, accounting them sacred. ^Elian 1 was 
told that if they found one dead they would bury it and lament 
for it. If they took one alive in their nets they cast it back into 
the sea. The dead totem is often mourned for as a clansman. 
In Samoa, if an Owl man finds a dead owl, he will sit down by 
it and weep over it and beat his forehead with stones till the 
blood flows 2 . In Phrygia there was a clan called the Snake-born 
(0<f>ioyevei<;), reputed to be descended from a sacred snake of 
great size who had once lived in a grove 3 . At Parium was 
another group of Snake-born men. The males of the group had 
the power, Strabo 4 tells us, of curing the bite of serpents by 
touching the patient. The Psylli, a Snake clan of Africa, exposed 
their new-born children to the bite of snakes. If bitten they 
were bastards, if left untouched legitimate 5 . If stories such as 
these are not survivals of totemistic thinking, it is hard to know 
what is. 

In poetry more even than in prose or than in the practice of 
actual rites, primitive ways of thinking, totemistic unifications 
of man and animal are sure to survive. In the Bacchae of 
Euripides, in that very religion of the Kouros which we have 
seen to be so elemental, we have an instance of strange beauty 
and significance. 

One secret of the thrill of the Bacchae is that the god is always 
shifting his shape. Dionysos is a human youth, lovely, with curled 
hair, but in a moment he is a Snake, a Lion, a Wild Bull, a 
Burning Flame. The leader of the chorus cries 6 

Appear, appear whatso thy shape or name, 

Mountain Bull, Snake of the Hundred Heads, 

Lion of Burning Flame, 
God, Beast, Mystery, come ! 

When Pentheus comes out from the palace, hypnotised, intoxi- 
'cated, seeing two suns, two walls with seven gates, the most 

1 iEl. N.A. xin. 26 on the t^tti^ evaXios. Ov criTovvrai 5e avrbv oi ttoWoi, vofilfovres 
''up6v. 2,epi(plovs Si aKotiu /ecu dairrtiv veKpbv eaXo>/c6Ta • fwira 5e ets SIktvov efiTreadfTa. 
iov KaT{x ov <f<- v , oXKa. rjj daXaTrr) cu>0is. Qprjvovai 5k &pa rovs airo9av6vTa$. 

2 Dr Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, 1910, iv. p. 15. 

3 Ml. N.A. xn. 39. 4 xin. 1. 14. 
5 Varro, ad Prise, x. 32. 6 v. 1017. 

' H. 9 

130 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

frightening thing of all is that he sees the Bacchos not as man, 

but bull 1 : 

And is it a "Wild Bull this, that walks and waits 
Before me? There are horns upon thy brow! 
What art thou, man or beast? For surely now 
The Bull is on thee ! 

Now all this is usually 2 explained as a ' late ' mysticism, a sort 
of pantheism, the god in all nature. In reality it goes back to 
things simpler and deeper. It is important to note that this shift 
to animal shape is not a power of transformation due to the mature 
omnipotence of the god ; it is with the Dithyrambos from his 
birth ; it is part of his essence as the Twice-Born. The first 
chorus 3 , as well as the third already analysed, is in part a Birth- 
song, a Dithyramb. The chorus sing of the coming of Bromios 
from Phrygia, of the Thunder Epiphany, the smiting of Semele 
the Mother, and the second birth from the Father : 

And the Queen knew not beside him 
Till the perfect hour was there. 
Then a horned God was found. 

The Dithyramb is a bull-god, reborn into his tribe not only as 
a full-grown male but as a sacred beast 4 . 

Thus, in the very kernel of our subject, in the Rite of the 
New Birth, we find the toteraistic way of thinking. The boy to 
be initiated is reborn as his totem-animal. 

In describing the ceremony of the Second Birth among the 
Kikuyus we have seen 5 that the rite was called either To be born 
again or To be born of a goat. As the Kikuyu have no goat totem 
we cannot certainly connect the ceremony with totemism, but 
among other peoples the connection is clear. Thus, when a South 
Slavonian 6 woman has given birth to a child, an old woman runs 
out of the house and calls out, 'A she-wolf has littered a he-wolf.' 
To make assurance doubly sure, the child is drawn through a 

i v. 920. 

2 Again I find that what I believe to be the right explanation is given by 
Mr A. B. Cook (J.H.S. xiv. 108). 

3 Bacch. 99. 

4 It is scarcely necessary to say that Euripides was all unconscious of that sub- 
stratum of totemism of which he makes such splendid poetical use. 

■ p. 21. 

6 J. G. Frazer, Totemism, 1887, pp. 32 and 33. 


v] Second Birth as an Animal 131 

wolf-skin so as to simulate actual birth from a wolf. The reason 
now assigned for these customs is that by making a wolf of the 
child you cheat the witches of their prey, for they will not attack 
a wolf. But the origin of the custom must surely be the simpler 
notion that you mean what you do to the child — you make a wolf 
of him. 

Very instructive in this inspect is a Hindu custom 1 . When a 
Hindu child's horoscope looks bad, he has to be born again of 
a cow. He is dressed in scarlet, tied on a new sieve and passed 
between the hind legs of a cow forward through the forelegs to 
the mouth and again in the reverse direction to simulate birth ; 
the ordinary birth-ceremonies, aspersion and the like are then 
gone through. The child is new born as a holy calf. This is 
certain, for the father sniffs at his son as a cow smells her calf. 
A like ceremony of new birth as a beast may be gone through 
merely with a view to purification. If in India a grown person 
has polluted himself by contact with unbelievers, he can be purified 
by being passed through a golden cow. This brings out very 
clearly the sense in which new birth and purification are sub- 
stantially the same : both are rites de passage, the spirit of both 
is expressed by the initiation formulary, e(f)vyoi> kclkov evpov 

The second birth then of the infant Dionysos as a ' horned 
child ' is best explained by totemistic ways of thinking. If the 
view 2 here taken be correct, totemism arises, not from any intel- 
lectual blunder of the individual savage, but rather from a certain 
mental state common to all primitive peoples, a state in which 
the group dominates the individual and in which the group seeks 
to utter its unity, to emphasize its emotion about that unity by 
the avowal of a common kinship with animal or plant. If this be 
so, the Greeks will be no exception to the general rule. They 
must have passed through the stage of undifferentiated thinking 
and group-emotion from which totemism, magic and the notion of 
mana sprang 3 , and we may safely look for survivals of a totemistic 

1 Frazer, op. cit. p. 33. 

2 The view taken is substantially that of Prof. Durkheim or at least arises out 
of it. See E. Durkheim, Sur le totemisme, in L'Annee Sociologique, 1902 (v.), 
p. 82. 

3 Dr Frazer in his great work, Totemism and Exogamy, vol. iv. p. 13, says that 
I the evidence adduced in support of the existence of totemism among the Semites 

and among the Aryans, notably among the ancient Greeks and Celts, leaves him 



Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

habit of thought. That these survivals abound among primitive 
red-skins and black-skins rather than among Semites and Aryans 
need surprise no one. 

Another totemistic relic remains to be considered ; it is again 
enshrined with singular beauty in the Bacchae. Among totemistic 
peoples it is frequently the custom to tattoo the member of the 
totem-group with the figure of the sacred plant or animal. That 

Fig. 23. 

this custom was in use among the Thracian worshippers of 
Dionysos we have clear evidence in Fig. 23. The design is from 
a beautiful cylix with white ground in the National Museum at 
Athens 1 . The scene is the slaying of Orpheus by a Maenad. 
Only the Maenad is figured here. On her right arm is distinctly 
tattooed a fawn, on her left some object not yet explained. 

' doubtful or unconvinced. To a great extent it consists of myths, legends and 
superstitions about plants and animals which, though they bear a certain resem- 
blance to totemism, may have originated quite independently of it.' 

1 See my paper on Some Fragments of a Vase presumably by Euphronios, 
in J.H.S. ix. 1888, p. 143. 

v] Totemistic Tattoo-marks 133 

The female worshippers of Dionysos were it would seem I 
tattooed with the figure of a fawn ; the male worshippers were i 
stamped with an ivy leaf 1 . The ivy, rather than the vine, was in ' 
early days the sacred plant of Dionysos. The Bacchic women 
chewed ivy in their ecstasy, possibly as a sort of sacrament 2 . 
Pliny 3 was surprised at the veneration paid to ivy because it is 
hurtful to trees and buildings. The reason of its sanctity is 
simple if mystical. Ivy lives on when other plants die down. It 
is the vehicle of the external, undying, totem-soul, the vehicle of 
Dionysos, god of the perennial new birth. When Ptolemy Philo- 
pator converted the Egyptian Jews to the religion of Dionysos he 
had them branded with the ivy leaf 4 . 

The ivy then was the primitive phytomorph, the fawn the 
theriomorph. You want to identify yourself with your totem, 
who by now has developed into your god. To effect this union, 
this consubstantiality, it is well to carry his symbols and to dance 
his dances, on occasion it is well to eat him ; but, best and 
simplest, be stamped indelibly with his image. The Bacchant 
wore the nebris, the fawn -skin, on her feet were sandals of 
fawn-skin ; stamped with the figure of a fawn, she is a fawn 
and fleeing from the human hounds to the shelter of the 
woodland she sings : 

O feet of a fawn to the greenwood fled, 
Alone in the grass and the loveliness 5 . 

We have then in Greek and especially in Bacchic religion 
traces slight but sufficient, not of a regular totemistic social 
system, but of totemistic ways of thinking. We pass on now to 
show how these totemistic ways of thinking explain the gist of 
the Feast of Raw Flesh (SaU a>/ji,o(f)a<yo<i) which was part of the 
rite of Bacchic initiation. We shall find that this Feast is as it 
were the prototype of all sacrament and sacrifice. 

1 P. Perdrizet, Le Fragment de Satyros, in Kevue des Etudes Anciennes, xn. 
1910, p. 235. 

2 Plut. Q. R. 112 ai hoxoi rots /3a\"X'K0?s irddecn yvpa?Kes evdvs eiri tov kittqv 
ipipovrai, Kal crirapaTTovcn dpaTTop-tvat rah X^""' Ka ' Sieirffovcrai. rots ffrb/iaaiv. 

3 H. N. xvi. 144. 

4 Perdrizet, op. cit. p. 235. 

5 Eur. Bacch. 866 

ws vej3pbs x^ 0£ P a ' s e/iTrai- 
fowra XeifioLKOs ijdovais. 

134 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

That sacrifice and sacrament are near akin the similarity of 
the two words would lead us to suspect. One obvious distinction 
is, however, worth noting at the outset. Sacrifice, as part of our 
normal religious ritual, is now-a-days dead and gone. Sacraments 
show no sign of dying, but rather of renewed life and vigour. 
This need not surprise us. It will shortly appear that sacrifice is 
but a specialized form of sacrament, both sacrament and sacrifice 
being themselves only special forms of that manipulation of mana 
which we have agreed to call magic. Of the two, sacrifice and sacra- 
ment, sacrament is the more primitive ; sacrifice contains elements 
that are plainly of late development. The oldest things lie deepest 
and live longest; it is the specializations, the differentiations, that 
dwindle and die. We begin then by asking — What is sacrifice ? 
What is the late element in it as compared with sacrament? 
And, incidentally, why was it doomed to a relatively early death ? 

The current common-sense view of sacrifice is the gift- theory 1 , 
do ut des, I give, at some personal ' sacrifice,' to you, the god, in 
order that you may give me a quid pro quo. I bring a gift to 
a god as I might to an oriental potentate to ' smooth his face.' 
This theory presupposes a personality, not to say a personage, to 
whom the gift may be offered. It further supposes that the 
personality is fairly benevolent and open to a bribe. An important 
modification of the do ut des theory of sacrifice is the do ut abeas 
variety, ' I give that you may keep away.' It only differs in 
supposing malevolence in the person approached. When we come 
to consider animism it will be seen that do ut abeas probably 
precedes do ut des. 

The gift-theory of sacrifice was unquestionably held by the 
Greeks of classical times, though with an increasing sense of its 
inadequacy. 'Holiness,' says Socrates 2 to Euthyphron, 'is a sort 
of science of praying and sacrificing ' ; further he adds, ' sacrifice is 
giving to the gods, prayer is asking of them ; holiness then is 
a science of asking and giving.' If we give to the gods they also 
want to ' do business with us.' Euthyphron, with his orthodox 
mind, is made very uncomfortable by this plainness of speech, but 
has nothing he can urge against it. 

1 See my Prolegomena, pp. 3 — 7, where I accept this theory which I now see to 
be, as regards primitive sacrifice, wholly inadequate. 

2 Plat. Euthyphro, 15 i>. 

v] Sacrament and Gift-sacrifice 135 

The gift-element in sacrifice is real, though as we shall 
immediately see it is a late accretion, and it is this gift-element I 
that has killed sacrifice as distinct from sacrament. The gift- 
element was bound to die with the advance of civilization. We 
have ceased to tremble before those stronger and older than 
ourselves, we therefore no longer try to placate our god, we have 
ceased to say to him, do ut abeas. We have come to see that to 
bribe a ruler does not conduce to good government; so to the giver 
of all good things we no longer say, do ut des. To this cause of 
the decay of sacrifice is added, in the matter of animal sacrifice, 
the increase of physical sensitiveness. Physically the slaying of 
innocent animals is beginning to be repulsive to us. Some of us 
still do it for sport ; many of us allow others to do it for us to 
procure flesh food ; but we no longer associate slaughter with our 
highest moral and religious values 1 . 

Sacrifice then in the sense of gift-sacrifice is dead. It is worth 
noting that an element which has been essential and universal in 
religion can drop out and leave religion integral. Instead of quod 
semper quod ubique, we must now adopt as our motto, tout passe, 
tout lasse, tout casse. 

The lateness of this somewhat ephemeral gift-element in 
sacrifice is apparent. It presupposes the existence of a well- 
defined personality with whom man can ' carry on business.' In a 
word the gift-theory of sacrifice is closely bound up with the mis- 
taken psychology that assumes the primitiveness of animism and 
anthropomorphism. As Dr Tylor 2 says with his wonted trenchancy : 

Sacrifice has its apparent origin in the same early period of culture and 
its place in the same animistic scheme as prayer, with which through so long 
a range of history it has been carried on in the closest connection. As prayer 
is a request made to a deity as if he were a man, so a sacrifice is a gift made 
to a deity as if he were a man. 

Dr Tylor, the great exponent of the 'gift-theory,' operates, it is 
clear, from the beginning with a full-blown anthropomorphic god. 
But the totemistic stage of thinking, we have seen, knew no god, 
only a consciousness felt collectively of common mana. Was there 
sacrifice in days of totemistic thinking before a god had been 
fashioned in man's image, and if so, what was its nature ? 

1 It will later be seen that killing is not an essential part of sacrifice. 
- Primitive Culture 2 , 1873, p. 375. 

136 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

Robertson Smith 1 was the first to see that Dr Tylor's gift- 
theory, apparently so simple and satisfactory, did not cover the 
whole of the facts. He noted that, when you sacrificed, when you 
gave, as it was thought, a gift to your god, you seldom gave him all 
of it. You ate some of it, most of it yourself, and gave the god 
bones and specimen bits. Now with a jealous god — and the god 
of the Hebrews with whom Robertson Smith was chiefly concerned 
was a jealous god — this method of carrying out your sacrifice 
would clearly, if the gift-theory were true, not work. A. 'jealous 
god' must be either a fool or a saint to stand it. The sacrifice!' 
would surely share the just fate of Ananias and Sapphira who 
' kept back part.' In a word Robertson Smith, fired by the 
recent discoveries of totemism, saw what had necessarily escaped 
Dr Tylor, that the basis of primitive sacrifice was, not the giving 
a gift, but the eating of a tribal communal meal. In a splendid 
blaze of imagination his mind flashed down the ages from the 
Arabian communal camel to the sacrifice of the Roman mass. 

Even Robertson Smith, great genius though he was, could not 
rid himself wholly of animism and anthropomorphism. To him 
primitive sacrifice was a commensal meal, but shared with the god ; 
by the common meal the common life of god and group w r as alike 
renewed. Still hampered as he was with full-fledged divinity as 
contrasted with sanctity, he could not quite see that in sacrifice 
the factors were only two, the eater and the eaten, the ' worshipper,' 
that is the eater, and the sacred animal consumed. Once the 
sacred animal consumed, his mana passes to the eater, the wor- 
shipper, and the circuit is complete. There is no third factor, no 
god mysteriously present at the banquet and conferring his 
sanctity on the sacred animal. As will later be seen this third 
factor, this god, arose partly out of the sacrifice itself. From 
Robertson Smith's famous camel 2 , devoured raw, body and bones, 
before the rising of the sun, no god developed; from the oofMO(f)ayta 
of the more imaginative Greek arose, we shall presently see, the 

The word sacrifice, like sacrament, tells the same tale. Etymo- 
logically there is nothing in either word that tells of a gift, nor 

1 Religion of the Semites, 1889. 

2 Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 320. I have previously, Prolego- 
mena, pp. 486 ff., discussed in full this important instance of (b/j.o(payia. 

v] Sacrifice originally sacramental 137 

yet of a god, no notion of renouncing, giving up to another and 
a greater. Sacrifice is simply either ' holy doing ' or ' holy making,' 
lepa pe^eiv, just sanctiftcation, or, to put it in primitive language, 
it is handling, manipulating mana. When you sacrifice you build 
as it were a bridge 1 between your mana, your will, your desire, 
which is weak and impotent, and that unseen outside mana which 
you believe to be strong and efficacious. In the fruits of the 
earth which grow by some unseen power there is much mana ; you 
want that mana. In the loud-roaring bull and the thunder is 
much mana; you want that mana. It would be well to get some, 
to eat a piece of that bull raw, but it is dangerous, not a thing 
to do unawares alone ; so you consecrate the first-fruits, you 
sacrifice the bull, and then in safety you — communicate. 

We are accustomed to the very human gift-theory of sacrifice, 
it appeals to us by its rather misleading common-sense. Com- 
pared with it this theory of sacrifice as a medium, a bridge built, 
a lightning-conductor interposed, may seem vague and abstract. 
It is not really abstract ; it belongs to a way of thinking that was 
inchoate rather than abstract. When they began to theorize about 
sacrifice, it was familiar to the ancients themselves. Sallust 2 the 
Neo-Platonist, the intimate friend of Julian, wrote, at Julian's 
request, a tract About the Gods and the World, He devotes two 
chapters to Sacrifice. Why does man give gifts to the gods who 
do not need them ? Sacrifice is for the profit of man not the gods. 
Man needs to be in contact (a-vvacpOijvac) with the gods. For this 
he needs a medium (fieaorws) between his life and the divine life. 
That medium is the life of the sacrificed animal. Sallust is as 
much — and more — obsessed by full-blown gods as Dr Tylor, but 
he comes very near to the notion of ?>icma-communion. 

It should be noted at this point that eating is not the only 
means of communicating, though perhaps it is among the most 
effective. What you want is contact, in order that mana may 
work unimpeded. When you hang a garment on a holy tree or 

1 This idea has been very fully developed by MM. Hubert et Mauss in their 
illuminating Essai sur la Nature et la Fonction du Sacrifice which first appeared 
in the Annee Sociologique, n. 1897-8, and has since been republished by them 
in the Melanges d'Histoire des Keligions, 1909. 

2 I owe my knowledge of Sallust's ITept de&v ko.1 k6<t/xov to Professor Gilbert 
i Murray. See his article A Pagan Creed — Sallustius's ' De Diis et Mundo ' in 
I the English Eeview, December, 1909, p. 7. 

138 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

drop a pin into a holy well, you are not making an offering. Such 
an offering would be senseless; a well has no use for pins, nor a 
tree for raiment. What you do is to establish connection, build 
a sacramental bridge, a lightning-conductor. So Kylon 1 , by way 
of safeguard, tied himself by a thread to the holy xoanon of 
Athens, thereby establishing sacramental communion. Some- 
times you need no bridge, you have only to lie open to spiritual 
influences. Thus among the Algonkins in North America, a Fox 
man in telling a missionary of his experiences in the sweat 
lodge said : 

Often one will cut oneself over the arms and legs, slitting oneself through 
the skin. This is done to open up many passages that the manitou (the 
Algonkin equivalent of mana) may get through. The manitou comes out 
of its place of abode in the stone. It becomes raised by the heat of the fire 
and proceeds out of the stone when the water is sprinkled on it. It comes 
out in the steam, and in the steam it enters the body wherever it can find 
entrance. It moves up and down and all over inside the body, driving out 
everything that inflicts pain. Before the manitou returns to the stone, it 
imparts some of its nature to the body. That is why one feels so well after 
having been in the sweat lodge 2 . 

Magic, sacrament and sacrifice are fundamentally all one ; they 
are all the handling of the sacred, the manipulation of mana, but 
usage has differentiated the three terms. Magic is the more 
general term. Sacrament is usually confined to cases where the 
ceremonial contact is by eating ; sacrifice has come to be associated 
with the killing of an animal or the making over of any object by 
a gift. Sacrament is concerned rather with the absorbing of 
mana into oneself, magic deals rather with the using of that 
mana for an outside end. Moreover sacrifice and sacrament 
tend to go over to the public, ceremonial, recurrent contacts 
effected collectively ; whereas individual, private, isolated efforts 
after contact tend to be classed as magic. 

It is sometimes felt that whereas the gift-theory of sacrifice 
is simple, straight-forward, common-sensical, the medium, or 
contact or communion theory is 'mystical,' and therefore to be 
regarded with suspicion by the plain man. ' Mystical ' assuredly 
it is in the sense that it deals with the unseen, unknown mana ; 

1 Plut. Vit. Sol. XII. eiiaipavras 5e rod edovs KpOKTjv k\(i3<tt7]v ko.1 to.vt7]s exofJ-ivovi 


- William Jones, The Algonkin Manitou from the Journal of American Folklore, 
xviii. p. 190, quoted by I. King, The Development of Religion, 1910, p. 137. 

v] Good and Good to eat 139 

but, once the primitive mind is realized, it is more and not less 
common-sensical. Religion focuses round the needs and cir- 
cumstances of life. Religion is indeed but a representation, 
an emphasis of these needs and circumstances collectively and 
repeatedly felt. The primary need, more primary, more pressing 
than any other, is Food 1 . Man focuses attention on it, feels acutely 
about it, organizes his social life in relation to it ; it is his primary 
value, it and its pursuit necessarily become the subject-matter of 
his simplest religion, his Spcafieva, his rites. 

When Elohim beheld the world he had created he 'saw that 
it was very good.' The Hebrew word for 'good' Q1D) seems 
primarily to have been applied to ripe fruits; it means 'luscious, 
succulent, good to eat 2 .' The same odd bit of human history 
comes out in the Mexican word giialli, which though it means 
'good' in general is undoubtedly formed from gua 'to eat' — the 
form gualoni, 'eatable,' keeps its original limited sense. 'Evil' in 
Mexican is am ogualli or a gualli, i.e. 'not good to eat'; gua gualli, 
'good, good,' 'extremely good,' is really 'superlatively eatable.' 
The word xochill means 'flower'; the word for ' fruit' is 'good, i.e. 
eatable flower,' xochigualli. Most instructive of all, the act of 
making a meal is 'I do myself good,' Nigualtia 3 . 

Food then, what is good to eat, may well have been the initial, 
and was for long the supreme, good. For primitive man it was 
a constant focus of attention, and hence it was what psychologists 
call a ' value centre.' The individual who ate a meal, especially a 
flesh meal, felt the better for it, he was conscious of increased 
mana, of general elation and well being. Meat to those who eat 
it rarely has the effect of a mild intoxicant. This stimulus felt 
by the individual would constitute in itself a vague sanctity. It 
needed however reinforcement from collective emotion. This 
brings us to the communal meal, the Bats, a meal normally of 

1 See Professor E. S. Ames, The Psychology of Religious Experience, 1910, 
chapter in., On Impulses in Primitive Eeligion. The social values that centre 
round sex and that find representation in the system of exogamy do not im- 
mediately concern us. Dr Frazer's view that totemism and exogamy are not 
necessarily related will be found in his Totemism and Exogamy, 1910, iv. p. 120. 
Professor Durkheim's view that the two are necessarily related is stated in 
his Prohibition de VInceste et ses Origines in L'Annee Sociologique, 1898, 
pp. 1—70. 

2 Schultens ad Prov. Sal. xiii. 2 tob: succosum, uber, uberi succo vigens. 

8 E. J. Payne, History of the Neiv World called America, 1892, i. p. 546 note. 

140 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

The Communal Meal (haU). 

In the light of totemistic ways of thinking we see plainly 
enough the relation of man to food-animals, a relation strangely 
compounded of mana and tabu. You need or at least desire flesh 
food, yet you shrink from slaughtering 'your brother the ox 1 '; you 
desire his mana, yet you respect his tabu, for in you and him alike 
runs the common life-blood. On your own individual responsibility 
you would never kill him ; but for the common weal, on great 
occasions, and in a fashion conducted with scrupulous care, it is 
expedient that he die for his people, and that they feast upon his 

Among many primitive peoples the eating of meat is always 
communal. Among the Zulus, when a man kills a cow, which is 
done rarely, with reluctance, the whole hamlet assembles, uninvited 
but expected as a matter of course, to eat it. The Damaras of 
South Africa look upon meat as common property. They have great 
reverence for the ox, only slaughter it on great occasions, and every 
slaughter is regarded as a common festival. When the Patagonians 
sacrifice a mare, the feast on her flesh is open to all the tribe 2 . 

This sanctity of the food-animal and the ordinance that the 
meal should be communal is not confined to domestic animals, in 
whose case it might be thought that such sanctity arose from daily 
contact and usage. Among the Ottawas the Bear clan ascribe 
their origin to a bear's paw and call themselves Big Feet. When- 
ever they killed a bear they used to offer the animal a part of his 
own flesh and spoke to him thus : 

Do not bear us a grudge because we have killed you. You are sensible, 
you see that our children are hungry. They love you, they wish to put you 
into their body. Is it not glorious to be eaten by the sons of a chief 3 ? 

This strange and thoroughly mystical attitude towards the 
sacrificed food-animal comes out very beautifully in the Finnish 
Kalevala 4 , where a whole canto is devoted to recounting the 

1 See Professor Murray's beautiful account of the relation between man and 
beast in the normal condition of Greece and the contrast of this with the Homeric 
scenes of animal slaughter, Rise of the Epic, pp. 59 ff. 

2 These instances are taken from the collection in Dr Jevons's Introduction to 
the History of Religion, p. 158. 

3 Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, in. p. 67, and see also the pathetic account 
of the bear-festival among the Ainos, too long for quotation here, in Dr Frazer's 
Golden Bough 2 , n. pp. 375 ff. 

4 Kalevala, translated by W. F. Kirby, Rune xlvi. , Vainonamoinen and the Bear. 

v] Otso the Bear 141 

sacrificial feast to and of Otso the mountain bear. They chant 
the praises of the Holy Bear, they tell of his great strength and 
majesty, the splendour, of his rich fur, the glory and the beauty of 
his ' honey-soft ' paws. They lead him in festal procession, slay 
and cook and eat him and then, as though he were not dead, they 
dismiss him with valedictions to go back and live for ever, the 
glory of the forest 1 . In the litany addressed to him the sacra- 
mental use of his flesh comes out very clearly. Limb by limb he 
is addressed : 

Now I take the nose from Otso 
That my own nose may be lengthened, 
But I take it not completely, 
And I do not take it only. 

Now I take the ears of Otso 
That my own ears I may lengthen. 

The notion that the slaying of a food-animal involves a 
communal Sat?, a distribution, comes out very clearly among 
the Kurnai, a tribe of South-East Australia 2 . The 'native bear' 
when slain is thus divided. The slayer has the left ribs: the 
father the right hind leg, the mother the left hind leg, the elder 
brother the right fore-arm, the younger brother the left fore-arm, 
the elder sister the backbone, the younger the liver, the father's 
brother the right ribs, the mother's brother of the hunter a piece 
of the flank. Most honourable of all, the head goes to the camp 
of the young men, the /covpoi. 

A somewhat detailed account of savage ceremonial has been 
necessary in order that the gist of sacramental sacrifice should be 
made clear. We have now to ask — Had Greece herself, besides her 
burnt-offerings to Olympian gods, any survival of the communal 
feast ? 

On the 14th day of Skirophorion (June — July), the day of the 
full moon of the last month of the Athenian year, when the 
threshing was ended and the new corn gathered in, on the 
Acropolis at Athens, a strange ritual was accomplished. Cakes 
of barley mixed with wheat were laid on the bronze altar of Zeus 
Polieus. Oxen were driven round it, and the ox which went up 
to the altar and ate of the cakes, was by that token chosen as 

1 In the bear-sacrifice of the Ainos the bear is thus addressed : ' We kill you 
bear ! come back soon into an Aino ' ; Frazer, Golden Bough 2 , n. p. 379. 

2 A. W. Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 759. 

142 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

victim for the sacrifice. Two men performed the sacrifice ; the 
one, the Boutypos, felled the ox with an axe, another, presumably 
the Bouphonos, cut its throat with a knife. Both the murderers 
threw down their weapons and fled. The weapons were sub- 
sequently brought to trial. The celebrants feasted on the flesh, 
and the ox itself was restored to life in mimic pantomime 1 . 

The uncouth ritual of the Bouphonia went on as late as the 
days of Theophrastos, but, by the time of Aristophanes 2 , it stood 
for all that was archaic and well-nigh obsolete. The Unjust Logos 
when told about the old educational system at Athens says : 

Bless me, that's quite the ancient lot, so Diipolia-like, 
Of crickets and Bouphonia full. 

What struck Pausanias 3 when he was told about the ritual, was 
that when the ox-striker had flung away the axe and himself had 
fled, ' as though in ignorance of the man who did the deed ' they 
bring the axe to judgment. It is just this one detail and all the 
elaborate House-that-Jack-built shifting of the blame from one 
celebrant to another till it rested on the lifeless axe which has 
diverted the attention of modern commentators from what is, I 
now 4 feel, the all-important factor or rather factors. The Bouphonia 
was (1) a communal feast, (2) the death of the ox was only 
incidental to the feast, and it was followed by a mimic Re- 

(1) The Bouphonia was a communal feast. Our fullest 
account is given by Porphyry 5 who borrows it from Theophrastos. 
Porphyry is explicit. The Bouphonia is a communal sacrifice 
(koivt) Ova-la). In the aetiological myth it is related that the 
ox was first smitten by a stranger, either Sopatros 6 or Dromos, 

1 I [have elsewhere, Ancient Athens, pp. 424-6, and Prolegomena, p. Ill, 
discussed the Bouphonia in detail. I can here only examine such elements as 
are important for my immediate argument. Attention was, I believe, first drawn 
to the great significance of the Bouphonia by Professor Bobertson Smith, Religion 
of the Semites, pp. 286 ff. The literary sources are collected and discussed by 
Dr Frazer, Golden Bough' 2 , n. pp. 294 ff. See also H. v. Gaertringen, Zeus 
Thaulios in Hermes, 1911, Miscellen, p. 154. 

- Nub. 984 

dpxaia ye xal Altto\iu>5v ko.1 reTTiywv ded/teara 
Kal KriKeLSov tcai Yiovcpoviwv. 

3 i. 24. 4. As Professor Bobertson Smith observes, ad loc, in Pausanias' time 
the rite had undergone some simplification, otherwise his account is inadequate. 

4 In my previous discussions of the Bouphonia, through ignorance of the magical 
character of sacrifice, I fell into the usual error of emphasis. 

5 de Abst. ii. 28 ff. 

6 So-patros may be the Saviour of the -rrarpa as Sosi-polis is Saviour of the state. 

v] The Boaphonia at Athens 143 

a Cretan. He happened to be present at the ' communal sacrifice ' 
at Athens, and seeing the ox touch the sacred cakes, was seized 
with indignation and slew it. He then fled to Crete. The usual 
pestilence followed. Sopatros was discovered and then thought 
he could escape the pollution he had incurred ' if they would 
all do the deed in common' and if the ox was smitten 'by the 
city.' In order to effect this the Athenians were to make him 
a citizen, and thus make themselves sharers in the murder 1 . That 
the Bouphonia was not merely a ' common sacrifice ' but also a 
communal feast is certain from the name given to a family who 
shared it. Theophrastos mentions in this connection, not only 
families of Ox-smiters (Bovtvttoi) and Goaders (KevrpidSai), but 
also a family of Dividers (kaiTpot), so called, he says, from the 
'divided feast' (Aat<?) which followed the partition of the flesh 2 . 
Moreover we have the actual ritual prescription. After the axe 
and the knife had been sharpened, one celebrant struck the ox, 
another slew him, and of those who afterwards flayed the ox, all 
tasted his flesh 3 . 

(2) The death of the ox was followed by a mimic Resurrection. 
When the ox had been flayed and all the flayers had tasted his 
flesh, Porphyry 4 tells us 'they sewed up the hide and stuffed it out 
with hay and set it up just as it was when it was alive, and they 
yoked a plough to it as though it were ploughing.' Such a ritual 
in the heart of civilized Athens was more surprising than any 
trial of a double axe. The scholiast on the Peace 5 tells us that 
the Diipolia was a ' mimetic representation ' (diro/jLLfivfia). He 
exactly hits the mark, though he certainly does not know it. The 
ox is brought to life again, not because they want to pretend that 
he has never died and so to escape the guilt of his murder (though 
I later that element may have entered), but because his resurrection 
I is the mimetic representation of the new life of the new year 6 and 

1 op. cit. II. 29 ^diwarpos vofj,iaas rrjs irepl avrbv 5vo~Ko\Las diraWayrfcreo'dai (lis 
| evayovs oVros, el KOivr/ tovto irpd^eiav irdvres £<pi)...beiv KaraKOTrrjvai fiovv virb rrjs 
| 7r6\ews, diropovvruv Be tIs 6 irard^wv farm, irapao~x^v clvtois tovto el iroXiTrjv avrbv 
i irofqadfievoi Kotvojur/crovo'i tov <j)6vov. 

2 op. cit. II. 30 tovs 5' dirb tov eirio~(pdi;ai'Tos bairpovs ovoLidfovcnv did ttjv i< rrjs 
Kpeovop-ias yiyvop.lvqv daira. 

3 op. cit. II. 30 tQiv be ixerd ravra Seipavruv, eyevaavTo tov fSobs irdvTes. 

4 Op. cit. II. 30 ruv he Lcera ravra heipdvrwv iytvffavTO tov (3obs irdvres, to6twv he 
irpaxOtvTwv tt\v fxeu hopdv rod /3ods pd\[/avTes ko.1 x°P t V eiroyKibffavTes e'£ave'o'Ti)o~av, 
?X ovr & TavTov bwep ko.1 $Giv 'iaxev cxW'a, Ka ^ irpocri^ev^av dporpov u>s epyai^Oft.e'vu). 

5 ad v. 50 io~n de dTrofj.lfj.ri/xa tw irepl tQiv ireXdvwv Kal rds (3ovi o-vti^dfTUv. 
u The New Birth in the spring will be discussed in the next chapter. 

144 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [oh. 

this resurrection is meant to act magically. The worshippers 
taste the flesh to get the mana of the ox, and to do that they 
must slay him. To taste the flesh is good, but best of all is it 
that the ox himself should on his resurrection renew his life and 

It is not a little remarkable that in the detailed accounts we 
have of the Bouphonia, all mention of Zeus, to whom it is supposed 
the sacrifice is made, is conspicuously absent. The ox is indeed 
said to have been driven up to the table of Zeus Polieus, but on 
that table the offering of cakes and the like is already complete. 
It is clear that the Bouphonia is just what its name says, an 
ox-murder that might be connected with any and every god. It is 
the sacrifice itself, not the service of the god, that is significant a 
the ox bulks larger than Zeus. 

^ i **^i'><'^>f- 

Fig. 24. 

In this connection it is worth noting that in the calendar- 
frieze 1 , now built into the small Metropolitan Church at Athens, 
the month Skirophorion is marked, not by any image of Zeus 
Polieus, but by the figure of the Boutypos, the Ox-smiter and his 
ox (Fig. 24). Above the diminutive ox is the sign of the Crab. 
To the right of the Boutypos is seen the Panathenaic ship, 
effaced and sanctified by the Christian symbol of the wheel and 
cross. The next great festival after the Bouphonia, which closed 
the old year, was the Panathenaia in Hecatombaion, which opened 
the new. The Panathenaia itself was superimposed upon the 
ancient Kronia 2 . 

See my Ancient Athens, p. 153. For full discussion of this calendar-frieze see 
J. N. Svoronos, Der athenische Volkskalendar in Journal Internationale d'Archeo- 
logie nuniismatique, 1899, n. 1. 

2 A. Mommsen, Heortologie, p. 108. 


The Bouphonia at Athens 


This point — the supremacy of the ox and the nullity of the 
god — is well illustrated by the design in Fig. 25 from a black- 
figured hydria 1 in Berlin. In a small Doric shrine stands an ox ; 
in front of him a blazing altar. To the left is Athena seated, her 
sacred snake by her side. She extends her right hand holding 
a phiale; she is waiting for libation. She may wait, it would seem, 
for the priestess raises her hand in adoration or consecration of — 
the ox. The ox is within the sanctuary, the goddess outside. Now 
it is of course impossible to be certain that we have here the ox of 
the Bouphonia. What is certain is that we have a holy ox, holy 
on his own account, with a sanctuary of his own, and that this holy 


K .si&ff^ 


^> : 

tik J^S 



1 [\ «J 1 

HL% Vb 

B9 *j|L A ^^^r ^B 

Bey M w : .h B JBffl 

Fig. 25. 

ox is associated with not Zeus, but Athena. Whatever Olympian 
was dominant at the moment would take over the intrinsically 
holy beast. 

The simple fact is that the holy ox is before the anthropo- 
morphic god, the communal feast (Sat?) before the gift-burnt 
sacrifice (Ovaia). The Bouphonia belongs to the stage of the 
communal feast followed by the resurrection. Of this its name 
bears witness. The word to ' ox-slay,' /3ov<f>ovea), occurs in Homer 2 

1 See my Myth, and Man. Ancient Athens, p. 428, Fig. 37. 
11. VII. 465 5iht€to 5' tj^Xlos, rereXearo 5e i-pyov Axaicoi' 

^ov<p6veov 8e /card /c\«rtas /cat dopwov eXovro. 
Schol. ad loc. {iov(poveiv forte ov to dveiv deols {qLtottov yap iwi dvffias <p6vov Xe7eti') 
d\\& t6 (povtveiv /3o0s els feiirvov KaraaKevqv. 

H. 10 

146 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

with the simple meaning to kill an ox for eating purposes. ' The 
sun went down and the work of the Achaeans was finished ' — they 
had been burning their dead — ' and they slaughtered oxen amid 
the huts and took their supper.' The scholiast on the passage, 
with probably the Bouphonia in his mind, says explicitly, 'ftovcpoveiv, 
to slay or murder oxen, is not sacrificing to the gods (for it would 
be absurd to apply the term of murder to a sacrifice) but it is 
slaying oxen as a preparation for a meal.' 

The scholiast rightly notes that the ' ox-slaying ' concerned the 
ox as food, not the god as eater. What he could not know was 
that a Bouphonia, a slaying for a Banquet, though it need have 
nothing to do with gods, could yet be of supreme sanctity — a 
sanctity preceding the gods and even begetting them. The 
speaker in a fragment of the Triptolemos of Sophocles says more 
truly than he knows, 

'Then came fair Dais, the eldest of the Gods 1 .' 
You eat your sacred animal to get his mana ; you then personify 
that mana, informing it with the life-blood of your own desire, 
provide him with your own life-history, and then, if you are an ortho- 
dox ritualist, you land yourself in the uncouth predicament that 
you must eat your personal god. From such relentless logic all 
but the most convicted of conservatives are apt to shrink. There 
are side ways, down which you may go, softenings and obscurantist 
confusions by which you may blunt the horns of your dilemma. 
Ritual says you must eat the holy ox ; imagination has conceived 
for you a personal Zeus, Father of Gods and men. You slay your 
ox, partake of his flesh, sew up his skin and yoke it to a plough. 
Yet all is well, for the whole holy and incompatible hocus-pocus 
is a ' sacrifice to Zeus Polieus.' 

Such strange blendings of new and old, such snowball-like 
accumulations, are sometimes caused, or leather precipitated, by 
definite political action. Peisistratos, feeling no doubt that 
Otympia might be a dangerous religious and social rival to Athens, 
conscious too that, at a time when the Homeric pantheon was 
rapidly being domesticated in Greece, the fact that Athens should 
have no important local worship of Zeus stamped Athens as* 

1 Hesych. s.v. Sots* ~o4>ok\t}s 

T)\0ev 5e Aais dd\eia irpea^iarrj dewv, 
t) St' epdvoiv ei)w%ta. 

v] The Bouphonia at Athens 147 

provincial, introduced in the lower town near the Ilissos the 
worship of Zeus Olympios, and with it he wisely transplanted a 
whole complex of primitive Olympian cults, making a sanctuary 
for Kronos and Rhea, and a precinct containing a chasm and 
dedicated to Gaia, with the title Olympian. It may be suspected, 
though it cannot be proved, that at the same time, though Zeus 
never got any substantial footing on the Acropolis, it was arranged 
that he should take under his patronage the ancient festival of 
the Ox-slaying 1 . 

Some such arrangement is reflected in the story told by 
Hesychius 2 in his explanation of the proverbial saying 'Zeus' seats 
and voting pebbles' (Ato? Qclkoi koX ireo-(cr)oi). 'They say that, 
in the ballot of the Athenians, when Athena and Poseidon were 
contending, Athena entreated Zeus to give his vote for her and 
she promised in return that she would have the sacrificial victim 
of Polieus sacrificed for the first time on an altar.' The victim, 
that is the bull, was called, according to Hesychius, the victim of 
Polieus (to tov JloXie&x? lepelov). I suspect that an t has been 
interpolated and that the earlier term was to tov 7ro\e&)<? lepelov, 
the communal victim (cf. koivt] Ovcria) which preceded the personal 
god. Anyhow, though Hesychius probably means by his state- 
ment irpoiTov dveo-dai eirl ficofiov, that Athena promised she 
would first sacrifice on the altar of Zeus, what he really says is 
that she promised first to sacrifice on an altar, that in a word the 
slaying of the ox for a feast should become the offering of an ox 
on an altar, the Sat? should be a Ovcria, a burnt sacrifice offered 
on the altar of an Olympian. 

A sacrifice brings to our modern minds an altar as inevitably 
as it brings a god ; both, in the sense we understand them, are late 
and superfluous. To sacrifice is, as the word implies, and as has 
been previously shown, to sanctify, to make sacred ; and to make 
sacred is to bring into contact with any source of force and fear, 
with any vehicle of mana. In one version of the story the slain 

1 See my Ancient Athens, p. 192. That the Bouphonia was primarily associated 
with the cult of Erechtheus in the Erechtheion rather than with that of Zeus, will 
appear in the next chapter. 

- s.v. Ai6s Ga/coi . . .<pa<rl 5e tt\v ' Adnvav Atbs de-qdrivai vTrtp avTrjs tt)v xpycpov iveyKelv 
/cat uwocx^c^ - 1 o.vtI toutov rb tov IIoXi^ws iepetov irpCirov 6ve<T$a.t. eiri (3u)/xov. Cf. 
Pausanias i. 28. 10. 



Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

bull of the Bouphonia is buried 1 . If this statement be correct, the 
/nana of the bull is put into direct contact with the earth it is to fer- 
tilize 2 , a practice known in sacrifice among many primitive peoples. 
We have seen in a previous chapter how the god, the Kouros, 
arose out of the collective emotion of his worshippers ; we now 
realize another source of divinity, none other than the sacrifice 
itself. The victim is first sanctified, sacrificed, then divinized. 
\Le dieu, cest le sacre personnifie. 

On the votive relief 3 in Fig. 26 we see the process of diviniza- 
tion go on as it were under our very eyes. The relief falls into 

1 Theophrastus in Porph. de Abst. ii. 29 fiev fiovv ddirrei (lunrarpos). The 
motive given by Theophrastus is fear, but burial of the remainder of the ox after 
all had tasted may well have been part of the ritual, either for the purpose of 
fertilizing the earth by contact with the bull's mana, or to secure the unwary from 
chance contact with a sanctity so terrific. 

2 Compare the well known custom of the Khonds who scatter the flesh of human 
victims over their fields to ensure fertility. In civilized Europe to-day the bones of 
animals killed at Easter and other festivals are sometimes scattered on the fields 
' for luck.' See Hubert et Mauss, Essai sur le Sacrifice, Annee Sociologique 
1898, p. 112. 

3 Imperial Museum, Constantinople, Inv. 1909. See Edhem Bey, Relief votif 
du Miuee Impe'rial Ottoman in Bull, de Corr. Hell. xxxn. (1908). PI. v. reproduced 
by kind permission of the Director of the Ecole Francaise a Athenes. 


The bull-headed Zeus Olbios 


three portions. In the gable at the top is a bull's head. In the 
centre is the figure of the god to whom the relief is dedicated, 
Zeus Olbios 1 , Zeus of Wealth or Prosperity: he pours libation on 
an altar, near him is his eagle. Below, the scene represented is a 
Bouphonia. An ox is tethered by a ring to the ground near the 
blazing altar. Behind him is an Ox-Smiter (Boutypos) with 
axe uplifted ready to strike. To the left behind the ox a girl 
approaches, holding in her left hand a plate of fruit and flowers. 
The woman behind holds infulae in her left hand. To the right 
are a man and boy holding objects that cannot certainly be made 

So far all seems well in order. The bull is sacrificed to the 
Olympian Zeus, who stands there dominant with his attribute, the 

Fig. 27. 

eagle, by his side. But if we look at the god's figure more closely 
we see that, if Zeus he be, it is in strange form 2 . On his head are 
horns : he is Tavpoicepws, bull-horned, like Iacchos ; he is bull-faced, 
fiovirpcppos, like the infant Dithyrambos. Now, when these animal 
gods come to light, it is usual to say the god assumes the shape 
of a bull, or is incarnate in the form of a bull. The reverse is 

1 The dedication is as follows : 

~Evo5iwv iepevs Aids 'OXftiov 

iiirkp tGiv idiicv iravTiov K<xdu)s itceXev- 

ffev dvedrjKa evxo-piCTTjpiov. 

2 Miss M. Hardie, of Newnham College, kindly examined the original of the 
relief and writes to me that, so far as it can be made out, there is all the appearance 
of a bull-mask worn by a human head. If this were certain we should have the 
figure of a priest impersonating a bull-god, which would be of singular interest. 

150 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

manifestly the case. The lower end of the ladder is on earth, 
planted in the reality of sacrifice. The sanctified, sacrificed animal 
becomes a god. He then sheds his animal form, or keeps it as an 
attribute or a beast of burden, or, as in the case of Jupiter 
Dolichenus 1 in Fig. 27, he stands upon the animal he once was, 
stands in all the glory of a deified Roman Emperor with double 
axe and thunderbolt. Any animal in close relation to man, 
whether as food or foe, may rise to be a god, but he must first 
become sacred, sanctified, must first be sacrificed. The fact that 
the sacrifice is, for reasons to be discussed later, renewed year by 
year, makes the personality of the god durable. 

The Bouphonia, it was acknowledged on all hands, was a 
ceremonial primitive and tending to be obsolete. It may be 
instructive to examine another instance of bull-sacrifice, where 
some of the more archaic and uncouth details have dropped away, 
yet where the intent remains the same, and where even more 
clearly than in the case of the Bouphonia we have gift-sacrifice to 
an Olympian appearing as an idea clearly superimposed on a 
primitive communal feast, a sacrament or sanctification of intent 
purely magical. Such an instance we have in the yearly sacrifice 
of a bull to Zeus Sosipolis 2 , of Magnesia on the Maeander. The 
full details of this sacrifice are happily known to us from an 
inscription found on one of the antae of the temple of Zeus in the 
agora at Magnesia, and dating about the middle of the third 
century B.C. 3 

At the annual fair {iravrj^vpa) held in the month Heraion, 
a bull, the finest that could be got, was to be bought each year 
by the city stewards, and at the new moon of the month 
Kronion, at the beginning of seed-time, they were to 'dedicate' it 
to Zeus 4 . Uncertain as the dating of months in local calendars 

1 Seidl, DoUchenu&}cu.U, Taf. m. 1. 

2 For the (Zeus) Sosipolis of Olyrnpia in his snake form and his analogies with 
the Cretan infant Zeus see C. Robert, Mitt. Arch. Inst. Athen xvm. 1893, p. 37, and 
Frazer ad Pausanias vi. 20. 2 — 5, and infra, p. 241. 

3 O. Kern, Inschriften v. Magnesia, No. 98, discussed by O. Kern, Arch. Anz. 
1894, p. 78, and Nilsson, Griechische Feste, 1906, p. 23. 

4 ...ravpov tlis k&Whttov tov /XTjvbs'Hpaiwvos iv rrji iravrj-yvpn inaiiTov Irons nai 
dvadetKVVwa-i tGil Ad dpxoftivov awbpov p.7]vbs Kpoviwvos iv ttji vovp.i)vlai. 

v] The Year- Bull at Magnesia 151 

sometimes is, it is a relief to find ourselves here on safe ground, 
the dedication {avahet^is) of the bull takes place at the beginning 
of the agricultural year ; the bull's sanctified, though not his actual, 
life and that of the new year begin together. 

The dedication, or rather indication, of the bull was an affair to 
be conducted with the utmost official solemnity. The bull was 
led in procession, at the head of which were the priest and 
priestess of the chief and eponymous goddess of the place, Artemis 
Leucophryne, and the Stephanephoros. With them also went the 
Hierokeryx, the Sacrificer and two bands of youths and of maidens 
whose parents were still alive (dfufriOaXels). The Hierokeryx, 
together with the rest of the officials named, pronounces a prayer 
on behalf of the ' safety of the city, and the land, and the citizens, 
and the women and children, for peace and wealth, and for the 
bringing forth of grain, and of all the other fruits, and of cattle 1 .' 

We are back with the Kouretes at Palaikastro, before the altar 
of Diktaean Zeus 2 . The sober citizens of Magnesia in the second 
century B.C. do not bid their Sosipolis ' leap,' but their prayer is of 
the same intent — for peace and wealth, for flocks and fruits, for 
women, for children, and first and foremost it is, like the invoca- 
tion of the Kouros, et? iviavrov — for the Year-Feast. The 
Kouretes, the young men, leap alone to their Kouros ; in the 
Magnesian procession nine maidens also walked and sang. Both 
youths and maidens alike must have both parents alive 3 , because 
where fertility is magically invoked there must be no contagion of 

On the reverse of the coins of Magnesia a frequent device is 
the figure of a ' butting bull.' A good instance is given in 
Fig. 28 a 4 . The bull stands, or rather kneels, on a Maeander 
pattern, behind him is a constant symbol, an ear of grain, which 
characterises significantly enough the bull's function as a fertility 
daemon. The bull is, I think, kneeling, not butting. This is 

1 Kal ev tQl avadeiKvixrOai rbv ravpov KarevxeffQu o iepoK7Jpv%...VTr{p re (rooTr]pias 
■Hjs re Tr6Xeo;s Kal rrjs x^pas Kal tuiv ttoKltCov Kal ywaiKCov Kal t£kvu}v Kal vrrtp elprii>r)s Kal 
irXourov Kal airov <popas Kal rCov aWuv Kapirdbv Kal tG>v ktt)vGiv. 

- p. 9. The full force of the words eh ivtavrbv will be considered in the next 

3 For the aixcpidaX^s ttcus who carried the Eiresione see Eustath. ad II. xxn. 496, 
p. 1283, and my Prolegomena, p. 79. The ritual prescription that a young celebrant 
should be a/A<pida\r]s occurs frequently. 

4 Brit. Mus. Cat. Ionia xviii. 4 enlarged. 


Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

certainly clear in the second coin figured b 1 . Here the bull is 
being driven by a youth to the mouth of what seems to be a cave. 
In front of it he kneels down as though in willing acceptance of 
his fate. 

The sacred animal, already half divinized, had to be free, had 
to choose, designate itself. We are not told that the bull of 
Magnesia designated itself either by kneeling or bowing its head, 
though the coins figured make it probable. But, in the sacrifice 
of a bull to Zeus Polieus at Kos 2 — a sacrifice which has mauy 
analogies to the Bouphonia — the ritual prescription is clear. Each 
ninth part of the three Dorian tribes drove up a bull to the 
sacrificial table of Zeus Polieus, at which the officials were seated, SUj& 

Fig. 28 a. 

Fig. 28 6. 

and that bull was chosen ' who bent himself 3 .' Possibly he bent 
down to taste corn on the sacred table like the ox at the Bouphonia, 
possibly he was induced to kneel. Anyhow he gave some sign 
that he was a freewill offering. 

The bull has been solemnly designated, set apart. He is 
sacred now, charged with the mana of the coming year, and his 
nurture is matter of scrupulous religion. The feeding of the holy 

1 Brit. Mus. Cat. xrx. 9. For the Bull-God and the cave and the periodical 
sacrifice in relation to Minos and the period of nine horai (evvtupos fiaaLXeve, r 179) 
see Prof. Murray, Rise of the Greek Epic*, p. 156 1 . 

2 Paton and Hicks, Inscriptions of Kos, No. 37, S.I.G. 2 616. See Nilsson, 
Griechische Fe^te, p. 17. Similarly at Halicarnassos, the goat chosen for sacrifice 
issued from the herd of his own free will and went up to the altar. See Apollonios, 
Paradoxogr. c. 13, p. 107, and at Pedasa in Karia a goat led the procession for 
seventy stadia. Hence the notion of Bods ^yefiiliv and Kad-nyepLui'. 

3 There is unfortunately a lacuna at the exact word describing the action 
at fxey na TT10...EI, hut the wro is certain and the restoration viroKfixf/ei. almost 
certain. V. Prott, Leges Graecorum Sacrae, p. 19, note 3 ad v. 20, says of Hicks, 
postea ipse in ectypo TIIOKT^EI legere sibi visus est. vTroKinrreiv is said of an 
animal drinking. 

v] The Year -Bull at Magnesia 153 

bull is in the inscription given over to a contractor (6 ip<yo\a fir/ eras). 

This is probably a late arrangement ; anyhow, though this official 

buys food, he has to drive the bull to the market, and 'it is good ' 

for those corn-merchants who give the bull grain as a gift 1 . This 

probably looks back to the time when the bull was maintained 

by free contributions from each member of 

the tribe. The communal character of 

these bull-sacrifices comes out very vividly 

in the coin of Kolophon in Fig. 29 2 . In 

the background is the temple of Apollo 

Klarios with its seated god. But in the 

foreground is the real focus of attention, a 

bull and an altar. Around it stand the 

thirteen representatives of the thirteen 

cities of the Ionian league. 

On the 12th of Artemision, the month of Artemis — who is, at 
least in Asia Minor, but a form of the Great Mother — the bull 
was sacrificed. The month Artemision is in Sparta equated by 
Thucydides :! (quoting a decree) with the Attic Elaphebolion — 
i.e. circ. March 24 to April 23 — so that we may fix the festival as 
about the 6th of April, i.e. for Greece the time of the late spring 
or early summer. 

On the day of the sacrifice there was again a great procession, 
again led by the priest and priestess of Artemis Leucophryne. 
Behind them came the senate, priests and various officials, and also 
certain chosen epheboi, youths (veot) and children (7ratSe9), also 
the victors in the games of the goddess, and other victorious 
competitors 4 . The Stephanephorus, who with the priest and 
priestess led the procession, had to bring with him the images of 
the twelve gods in their best clothes. A circular hut was to be 
set up, evidently to shelter the images, and three couches were to 
be strewn. This hut or tholos was to be near the altar of the 
twelve gods in the agora. 

1 1. 60 ff . This enactment comes at the end of the inscription as a sort of codicil 
after the account of the sacrifice. 

2 Brit. Mus. Cat. Ionia vin. 15. The coin, of imperial date, bears the inscription 
under the god's temple TO KOINON IfiNfiN. 

3 v. 19. 1 quoting a decree of 42 B.C. ' ApTf/jLiciov fir)vbs rerdpTTi </>8lvovtos, iv 5e 
'Adrjvais. . .'Fi\a<pr){3o\t.u)Pos fj-ijvos Zktt) (pOlvovros. See Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. Artemisia. 

(rv/uLwoiAireveiv...Kai tovs e<p-qfiovs Kal tovs v4ovs Kal tovs 7rcu.5cts /cat tovs ra 
KevKocppdrjva vik&vtcls Kal tovs dWovs tovs vikQvto.s tovs CTecpaviTas ayQvas. 

154 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

Here we find ourselves in full Olympianism. The twelve gods, 
primitive wooden images though they be, and decked in fine 
raiment, are to be present at the festival. Thernistocles, we 
remember, was the founder of Magnesia, and these twelve ancient 
xoana are the counterpart of the twelve Olympians of the east 
Parthenon frieze. But again it is clear that, honoured though 
they are as guests, they are not integral to the ceremony. It is 
expressly ordered indeed that Zeus Sosipolis should have a ram 
sacrificed to him, Artemis a she-goat, and Apollo a young he-goat 
(aTTvyos), but for the rest of the twelve no manner of provision is 

The added sacrifice of a ram to Zeus is, I think, highly signifi- 
cant. The bull, one would have thought, might have sufficed. 
But the reason is clear. The bull-sacrifice was at first no gift- 
sacrifice to Zeus or to any Olympian : it was, as immediately 
appears, a dais — a communal meal. When they shall have sacrificed 
the bull let them divide it up among those who took part in the 
procession 1 . The mandate is clear. The bull is not a gift to Zeus, 
but a vehicle of mana for distribution among the people. In him is 
concentrated as it were the life of the year : he is the incarnate 
ideal of the year; his life begins with the sowing, is cherished 
through the winter, and when it comes to full maturity in the 
early summer dies to live again in the people through the medium 
of the sacrificial banquet. He is sacred rather than divine ; but 
divinity is, we have seen, born of sanctification, and sacrifice is but 
a sanctification to the uttermost. The bull is Sosipolis, Saviour of 
the city, in the making 2 . 

The bull-ceremony then had two acts, the dvdhei^ or indica- 
tion, and the &u<? or communal, magical feast. As regards the 
first, one point remains to be noted. Commentators in explaining 
the festival have usually translated dvdhei,^i<; as dedication, and 
held that the ceremony meant a solemn consecration of the bull 

1 tov 5£ fiovv OTa.v dvcjwcnv [5]tave/j.(T(i}(rav roh avixironirtvaacnv. 

2 Sosipolis at Olympia was a chthonic §a.i(xuv rather than a 6e6s; he was a 
snake-child like Erichthonios. At Magnesia he is a bull and, as Mr Cook suggests 
to me, when Thernistocles (Plut. Tit. litem, xxxi. sub fin.) drank bull's blood, he 
identified himself with Sosipolis in his bull-form. A coin of Magnesia shows him 
with phiale in hand, standing beside a lighted altar with a slain bull at his feet 
(Ath.Mitt. xxi. 1896, p. 22; P. Gardner, Corolla Numismatica, 1906, p. 109). This 
coin represents the /jLv-rj/xeiov in the market-place at Magnesia (Thuc. i. 138). At 
the Peiraeos Thernistocles had a /3w/uo«5-ijs rd^os (Plut. Vit. Them. xxxn.). 

v] The Hosioter 155 

to the service of Zeus. As such undoubtedly it would have been, 
at least in part, understood in the time, say, of Themistocles. The 
bull would have been supposed to get his sanctity from Zeus rather 
than Zeus his divinity from the bull. This was, I am sure, not the 
original sense of dvd8eii;i<;. Another holy bull makes this certain. 

Plutarch in his ixth Greek Question 1 asks { Who is the Hosioter 

among the Delphians ? ' The answer is, ' They call Hosioter the 

animal sacrificed when a Hosios is designated.' It is at first sight 

astonishing to find the name Hosioter — He who consecrates, the 

Consecrator — applied to the victim rather than the priest. But in 

the light of the primitive notion of sacrifice explained above 

(p. 137 ff.) all is clear — the Holy Bull is the source of mana. In 

him mana is as it were incarnate. He it is who consecrates. At 

Delphi he became and was a god — the Bull-Dionysos. Lycophron 2 

tells us that at Delphi Agamemnon before he sailed 

Secret lustrations to the Bull did make, 
Beside the caves of him, the God of Gain 

Plutarch adds to his enquiry, ' Who is the Hosioter ? ' a second 
question, ' and why do they call one of their months Bysios ? ' 
Evidently the two are connected. The month Bysios was, Plutarch 
tells us, at the beginning of spring, the time of the blossoming of 
many plants. The 8th of Bysios was the birthday of the god, and 
in olden times on this day only did the oracle give answers. At 
Magnesia the new daimon comes in at the time of sowing; at 
Delphi the Thyiades ' wake up ' the infant god Liknites at the 
time when the Hosioi offer their secret sacrifice, presumably first 
o/and then to the Hosioter, the Bull. The death of the old-year 
daimon may be followed immediately by his resurrection as the 
spirit of the new* year. The death of the Old Year and the New 
Birth or Resurrection of the New, will form the subject of the 
next chapter. 

The dvdhei%i<; of the Magnesian bull is not then its consecra- 
tion to Zeus, but simply its indication, its exhibition, its designation 

1 For full discussion of this passage see my Prolegomena, p. 501. Plutarch says 
'OaLurfjpa. / Kakovcn rb 6v6/jl€vov upelov, where rb dvofxevov must be passive. 

2 Al. 207 Ae\<piviwv Trap' &vrpa Kep5y'ou deov 

Tavpcp Kpv(j>aias x^P Pl ^ as Kardp^erai, 
and the scholiast ad loc. says ravpos 5e 6 Ai6vvaos...oTi. iv wapa^varif) to. /j.v<xrr)pia. 
ire\etTo tuj Aiovuffii). 


156 Totemism, Sacrament and Sacrifice [ch. 

as best and fairest of the year, fittest vehicle of the life and mana 
of the people and the crops, like to a corn spirit, but of wider 
content. This holy vehicle of the year's mana, this eWauro?- 
daimon who died for the people, became at Delphi and in many 
other places a bull-god, a divinity born of his own sacrifice, 
i.e. of his own sanctification. At Magnesia he remains supremely 
sanctified indeed, but mainly the material of a dais, a. sacramental 
Feast. To us the sacrifice of a god seems a miracle or a blasphemy, 
but when the god is seen to be begotten of the sacrifice the 
anomaly is softened. 

It remains to resume our argument as to the sacrifice of the 

The bull is slain, not because his death has value to bribe or to 
appease, but in order that he may be eaten. He is eaten because 
he is holy ; he is holy because of the magical mana within him, 
what Homer would call his iepbv fxevo?. You would eat the bull 
alive if you could, but eating a bull alive is beset with difficulties. 
So you kill him first and have a feast of raw flesh, an a>/j,o<pdryo<; 
Sat?. If you become a Bacchos you will partake of that feast but 
once in your life, and henceforth will observe the tabu on flesh 
food — the flesh of ' your brother the ox.' 

And because you belong to a group, a thiasos, you do not sit 
alone eating raw bull ; you have a communal feast, a Sat?. 

You have at first no thought of worshipping or even holding 
communion with any god. All you desire is to absorb the mana 
of the holy bull's raw flesh. But bit by bit out of your sacrifice 
of that bull grew up a divine figure of the Feast, imagined, 
incarnate. You may call the figure by many names, Zeus Olbios, 
or the ' horned lacchos,' or Zagreus, or Dionysos Tauromorphos. 

One name the Initiated gave him, which reveals his origin and 
shows how the ancient miud naturally focused on sacramental 
communion. In his account of the contrast between Apollo and 
Dionysos, Plutarch 1 tells of the 'manifold changes' that Dionysos 

1 de Ei ap. Delph. ix. Aiovvoov 5£ Kai Tiaypta Kai NvKriXiov Kai 'laodaiTTjv avTbv 
ovofiafovcri. Kai (pdopas rivas Kai acpaviapous Kai rots avaj3Lwaeis Kai Tra\iyyeveo~ias oiice'ta. 
rats fiera^oXais aiviyfiara Kai fivdev/uara vepaivovcn. I have elsewhere 
(Prolegomena, p. 482, note 1) conjectured that the curious and hitherto unexplained 
title 'Iffodalrrjs was connected with the wp.oipd.yoi Scares, but I did not then understand 
the importance of the communal meal. 

v] Isodaites and the Communal Feast 157 

suffers into winds and water, and earth and stars, and how the 
births of plants and animals are enigmatically termed 'rending 
asunder' and 'tearing limb from limb'; and he adds, ' when they tell 
of certain Destructions and Disappearances, and Resurrections and 
New Births, which are fables and riddles appertaining to the 
aforesaid changes — then they call the god Dionysos and Zagreus, 
and Nuktelios and Isodaites' — Him of the equal Feast. 

So far our attention has been focused on sacrifice considered 
as a sacramental communion, as a means by which the com- 
municant might secure for himself and manipulate for his own 
ends the mana of the sacrificed animal. We have now to consider 
more in detail these ends to which the mana is applied. They 
will be found to be very simple and rather what we should call 
material than spiritual. In the Magnesian sacrifice, it will be 
remembered (p. 151), the Hierokeryx prayed year by year for the 
land and the citizens and the women, for peace and wealth, and 
for the bringing forth of the other ' fruits and of cattle.' We 
shall see this annual prayer embodied, represented as it were, on 
a monument of great importance to be considered in the next 
chapter, the famous Hagia Triada sarcophagos. 



hA6 nA9e xeAiAtoN, 
k&A&c cop&c AroycA; 
kaAoyc eNiAYToyc 

Vere concordant amores, vere nubunt alites, 
Et nemus comam resolvit de mantis inibribus. 

The painted stone sarcophagos 1 which forms in a sense the 
text of the present chapter is now in the museum of Candia, 
but it was found, in 1903, not at Knossos but close to the palace 
of Hagia Triada at Phaistos, on the southern coast of Crete. 
Immediately on its discovery its great importance was recognized, 
and, as there was fear of the frescoes fading, it was promptly 
carried, on the shoulders of men, a three days' journey across the 
island to the museum at Candia, where it could be safely housed. 

The tomb in which the sarcophagos was found is of a type 
familiar in Lycia but not in Crete 2 . It consisted of a walled, 
square chamber with a door at the north-west corner, somewhat 
after the fashion of the Harpy-Tomb now in the British Museum. 
This analogy is not without its importance, as the scenes repre- 
sented, if we rightly interpret them, embody conceptions familiar 

1 First published with full commentary and illustration by R. Paribeni, II 
Sarcofago dipinto di Hagia Triada in Monumenti Antichi della R. Accademia dei 
Lincei, xis. 1908, p. 6, T. i — in. and reproduced here by kind permission of the 
Accademia. See also F. von Duhn, Der Sarkophag aus Hagia Triada in Archiv 
f. Religionswissenschaft, xn. 1909, 161, and E. Petersen, Der Kretische Bildersarg 
in Jahrbuch Arch. Inst. xxiv. 1909, p. 162, and Rene Dussaud, Les Civilisations 
Pri-Helleniques dans le bassin de la mer Egee, 1910, p. 261. I follow in the 
main Dr Petersen's interpretation, though, in the matter of the bull-sacrifice, my 
view is independent. 

2 Paribeni, op. cit. p. 9; for the Lycian tombs see Perrot-Chipiez, Hist, de VArt, 
v. p. 361 ff. 

ch. vi] The Hagia Triada Sarcophagos 


in Asia Minor. Inside the tomb-enclosure were found two 
sarcophagoi, the large painted stone sarcophagos now before us, 
and a smaller one in terra-cotta. The discoverer, Dr Halbherr, 
dates the tomb and its contents at from 1500 — 1300 B.C. 

We begin with the principal scenes depicted on the two long 
sides of the sarcophagos, and first with the scene in Fig. 30. 
In the centre we have the sacrifice of a bull, of the kind, with 
large, curved horns, once common in the Aegean, now extinct. 

Fig. 30.- 

He is dying, not dead ; his tail is still alive and his pathetic eyes 
wide open, but the flute-player is playing and the blood flows from 
the bull's neck into the situla below. Two Cretan goats with 
twisted horns lie beneath the sacrificial table on which the bull 
is bound. They will come next. A procession of five women 
comes up to the table ; the foremost places her hands on or 
towards the bull, as though she would be in touch with him and 

160 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

his mana. She will consecrate, I think, not him but herself, put 
herself in touch with his great life which ebbs with the flowing 

Why does he die ? In the light of the last chapter we might 
safely assume that he died because his sacrificers desired his 
mana. But on the sarcophagos Ave have no communal feast ; nor 
is there present the figure of any Olympian to receive the bull's 
blood as a gift-offering. How then is it to be made effective ? 
A clue will be found in the scene immediately to the right of 
the bull, a scene not a little surprising. But before we pass to 
this scene some details of the bull-sacrifice must be noted. 

After what has been said about sacrifice we understand the 
pathetic figure of the slain bull, huddled up with sad despairing 
face. Very literally he dies for the people, that they may have 
new life, new mana, new [xevos, his life and his life-blood. We 
are reminded of the scene in the Odyssey 1 where the heifer is 
sacrificed to Athene, 

Then, straightway, Nestor's son 
Stood near and struck. The tendons of the neck 
The axe cut through, and loosed the heifer's might. 

And, as the life is let loose, the women raise their cry of 
apotropaic lamentation, their okokvyq. It is a moment of high 
tension, for the life with all its might and sanctity is abroad. 
Then, to make assurance doubly sure and to get the actual vehicle 
of the life, the blood, they cut the victim's throat: 

The black blood gushed, the life had left the bones 2 . 

We come now to the object of the sacrifice. On the extreme 
right of the design is a 'Mycenaean' shrine with 'horns of con- 
secration.' Growing out from the middle of it, probably actually 

1 Od. in. 448 

avTiKa N^crropos vios, vTr£pdv/j.os QpacrvfXTidrjs, 
rfkaoev ayx i <tt&s' TriXeicvs 5' air^KOipe r^vovras 
avxevLovs, \vaev 5e /3oos /x^vos' ai 5' 6\6\v^av 
Ovyartpes re vvoi re nai aidoirj irap&KotTis 
Here undoubtedly Xvtrev 5e /3oos /niuos means that the strength of the heifer collapsed, 
she fell in a heap on the ground. But the idea was originally that something holy 
and perilous escaped ; this is clear from the instant raising of the 6\o\vyfjt.6s. That 
the 6\o\vyfj.6s was a ywaiKeios vo/xos is plain from Aesch. Ag. 572. I believe its 
primary use to have been apotropaic. For the 6\o\vy/j.6s see Stengel, Hermes, 1903, 
pp. 43 — 44, and Kultusalterthiimer, p. 101. 

2 v. 455 ttjs 5' (Trel £k fieXav alfia put}, Xiire 5' oaria du/j.6s. 


The Bird and the Axe and the Tree 


surrounded by it, is an unmistakable olive-tree. On a step in 
front of the shrine is a slender obelisk, and on, or rather hafted 
into, the obelisk, to our delight and amazement, a sacred object 
now thrice familiar, a double axe, and, perched on the double 
axe, a great black mottled bird. The conjunction rather takes 
our breath away. Sacred obelisks we know, of double axes as 
thunder-symbols we have lately heard perhaps enough 1 ; birds are 
the familiar 'attributes' of many an Olympian; but an obelisk 
and a battle-axe and a bird with a sacrificial bull and a 

Fig. 31. 

' Mycenaean ' tree-shrine — who would have dared to forecast it, 
and what does it all mean ? 

Before this question can be answered we must turn to the 
other side of the sarcophagos in Fig. 31 and learn what is the 

1 The most illuminating study on the double-axe, its cult and significance, is 
a paper by Mr A. B. Cook, The Cretan Axe-Cult outside Crete, published in the 
Transactions of the Third International Congress for the History of Religions. 
Oxford, 1908, n. p. 184. A further discussion by Mr Cook may be looked for 
in his forthcoming book Zeus, chapter n., section 3, paragraph (c), division i, 'The 
double axe in Minoan cult.' For the bird and the axe see also A Bird Cult of the 
Old Kingdom by P. E. Newbery in the Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and 
Anthropology, n. p. 49, and Tioo Cults of the Old Kingdom, op. cit. i. p. 24, and 
0. Montelius, The Sun-God's Axe and Thor's Hammer, in Folk-Lore, 1910, p. 60. 

H. 11 

162 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

sequel of the sacrifice. There is, as before said, no hint of a 
sacramental banquet ; but there are other means of contact, of 
sacramental communion, besides eating and drinking. The blood 
of the bull is not drunk by the worshippers ; it is brought and 
poured — the liquid is red — by a woman dressed in sacramental 
raiment, from a situla into a great two-handled krater which 
stands between two obelisks again surmounted by double axe and 
bird. The woman celebrant is followed by another woman bearing 
two situlae on a pole over her shoulders, and by a man playing 
on a lyre. At this point the scene clearly ends. The next figure, 
carrying a calf, turns his back and walks in the contrary direction. 
The distinction between the two scenes is, in the original, made 
clearer by the differing colours of the background 1 . 

As to the double cultus-objects, two points must be carefully 
noted. The two sets of double axes, or rather double-double axes, 
are not quite the same. The one to the right is decorated with 
cross stripes, that to the left is plain. The double axe on the 
red obelisk on the other side of the sarcophagos has similar cross 
markings. Further the obelisk to the right is considerably taller 
than the obelisk to the left. This is I think intentional, not due 
to either accident or perspective, but to the fact that they stand for 
male and female potencies. The most surprising and significant 
difference in the cultus-objects of the two sides yet remains. 
The obelisk in Fig. 30 is merely an obelisk painted red ; the 
two obelisks in Fig. 31 are burgeoning out into leaves, and 
they are painted green ; they are trees alive and blossoming. 
They are not indeed actual trees 2 , but mimic trees, obelisks decked 
for ritual purposes with cypress leaves. 

The blood, the fievo<; of the bull, is brought to the two obelisks 
It is abundantly clear that we have no gift-offering to a divinitj 
Birds and thunder-axes and trees have no normal, natural us 
for warm blood. The blood, the maim, must be brought witl 
magical intent. Contact is to be effected between the unseer 
mystical mana of the bull and the mana of the tree. But, on 
the sarcophagos, we do not see the actual contact, the actual 
communion effected. The priestess does not apply the blood, 
does not asperge the obelisks. The evidence of the sarcophagos 

1 The significance of the scene to the right will be considered later, p. 209. 

2 This was, I think, first pointed out by Professor von Duhn, op. cit. p. 173. 

vi] The Bull-Sacrament of Atlantis 163 

can here be supplemented by other sacrifices in which bulls and 
trees and tree-posts are involved. 

In the island of Atlantis Plato 1 describes a strange bull- 
sacrifice, evidently founded on some actual primitive ritual. 
The essential feature of this sacrifice was the actual contact of 
the victim's blood with a pillar or post on which laws were 
engraved. Here we have direct contact with the object to be 
sanctified ; no altar or even table intervenes. It is sacrifice, i.e. 
magical contact, in its most primitive form. Kritias in his 
description of the sunk island says that in the centre of it was 
a sanctuary to Poseidon within which certain sacred bulls ranged 
freely. Poseidon it may be noted in passing is one of the gods 
who grew out of a bull ; his wine-bearers at Ephesus 2 were Bulls, 
and, in answer to the imprecation of Theseus, as a Bull he appears 
out of his own flood to wreck the chariot of Hippolytus 3 . It is 
to the Cretan Poseidon not to Zeus that Minos 4 promised the 
sacrifice of his finest bull. 

In this sanctuary of Poseidon was a column of orichalcum on 
which were inscribed the injunctions of Poseidon, which seem to 
have constituted the laws of the country. On the column, beside 
the law, was a Curse ( r/ Op/co<;) invoking great maledictions on the 
disobedient. Now there were bulls who ranged free (e^eroi) in 
the sanctuary of Poseidon, and the ten kings who were alone in 
the sanctuary prayed to the god that they might take for victim 
the bull that was pleasing to him, and they hunted the bull 
without iron, with staves or snares. The bull, be it noted, is 
free because divine ; he is not smitten with a weapon lest his 
fievos should prematurely escape. They then led the bull to the 
column and slew him against the top of the column over the 
writing 5 . The whole strength and mana of the bull is thus 
actually applied to, tied up with, the op/cos. To make assurance 

1 Krit. 119 d and e. 

2 Hesych. s.v. Tavpoi- oi rrapa. 'E<peaLois oivoxooi and s.v. Tavpia.' eopr-q rts 
dyop.evT] tlooeiduivos. Athen. x. 25 irapa. 'E(pe<rlois oi oivoxoovvres rjdeoi rrj rov Ilcxxei- 
dwvos eoprrj ravpoi e/axXouvro. 

3 Eur. Hipp. 1214 Kvp.' e^drjice ravpov, aypiov repas. Cf. Hesiod, Scut. 104 ravpeos 

4 Apollod. 2. 5. 7. 

5 Plat. Krit. 119 e ...5j/ Si 2\oiev rw ravpoiv, irpbs tt\v o~tt)\tiv rrpotxayaydfTes Kara 
Kopv(pi]v avTrjs iacp'a.TTOv kclto. rQv 


164 The Dithyramb, Spring -Festival, etc. [ch. 

doubly sure they afterwards filled a bowl with wine, dropped into 
it a clot of blood for each of the kings, and then drank, swearing 
that they would judge according to the laws on the column. Such 
a sacrifice is pure magic ; it has primarily nothing to do with a 
god, everything to do with the magical conjunction of the mana 
of victim and sacrificer. 

It has been happily suggested that the lost island of Atlantis 
reflects the manners and customs, the civili- 
zation generally, of Crete 1 , which after its 
great Minoan supremacy sank, for the rest of 
Greece, into a long oblivion. It is also very 
unlikely that Plato would invent ritual details 
which in- his day would have but little 
significance. But we have definite evidence 
that the ritual described is actual, not 
imaginary, though this evidence comes not 
from Crete but from another region of the 'Mycenaean' world. 
The coin of Ilium 2 reproduced in Fig. 32 shows, I think, very 
clearly, how the bull was sacrificed. The human-shaped goddess 
Athena Ilias is there with her fillet-twined spear and her owl ; 
but to the right is an older sanctity, a pillar on to which is hung 
a bull. He will be sacrificed, not on the pillar's top, which would 
be extremely awkward, but with his head and his throat to be 
cut against the top, alongside of it, down over it (Kara tcopv<f>r)v). 

That the divine or rather the chief sanctity of Ilium was a 
pillar is clear, I think, from the representation in Fig. 33 a. 
The ox, or rather cow 3 , is still free and stands before the goddess. 
She has human shape, but she is standing on the pillar she once 
was. On the obverse of another coin (b) she has left her pillar. 
Most remarkable and to us instructive of all, is the design on a 
third coin of Ilium in Fig. 33 c. The goddess is present, as 

1 See an interesting article The Lost Continent in the Times for Feb. 19, 1911. 

2 The four coins reproduced in Figs. 32 and 33 are published and discussed 
by Dr H. v. Fritze in the section Die Miinzen von Ilion of Prof. Dorpfeld's Troja 
nnd Ilion, n. p. 514, Beilage, PI. 61, No. 19, PI. 63, Nos. 67, 68 and 69, 
and are here represented by Prof. Dorpfeld's kind permission. Dr Fritze in his 
interesting commentary does not note the Atlantis parallel, but he draws attention 
to the fact that the suspended bull explains the formulary that often occurs in 
ephebic inscriptions alpeadai tovs ftovs. Thus CIA n 1 . 467 ijpavTo 8t ical tols 
MvarypLoLS tovs /3o0s ev ''EXeva'ivi rfj Ovcrig. and CIA n 1 . 471, 78 f. ^7ro[i??cr]aro 5e kcli ras 
&po~eis tCiv ySoiif iwdudpus tv rrj 'EXei>[<nVt ttj dv\o~lq\. koX toIs Tcp\on poo Lois]. 

3 That the animal sacrificed before the Palladion is female is certain from the 
r\ /3o0s of the inscription of Ilium. 


Bull and Tree at Ilium 


before, mounted on her pillar. Before her is the cow suspended 
head uppermost on a tree. Behind the cow and apparently 
seated on the tree is the sacrificer, known by his short sleeveless 
chiton. He has seized the horn of the cow in his left hand and 
with his right he is about to cut her throat. The goddess may 
be present as much as she likes, but she was not the original 
object of the cow-slaying. The intent is clear, the blood of the 
cow is to fall on the sacred tree and will bring it new mana. No 
other explanation can account for a method of sacrifice at once 
so difficult and so dangerous. 

The gist of bringing the bull's blood to the obelisks on the 
sarcophagos is then, in the light of the coins of Ilium, clear. It 
is to bring the mana of the bull in contact with the mimic trees. 
Tree and pillar and obelisk are all substantially one ; the living 


Fig. 33. 


tree once cut down becomes a pillar or an obelisk at will, 
and, dead though it may be, does not lose its sanctity. All trees 
tend to be sacred or possessed by an unseen life, but above all 
fruit-trees are sacred 1 , they are foci of eager collective attention. 
Long before agricultural days and the sanctity of grain came the 
sanctity of natural fruit-trees. On the sarcophagos it is clear 
that we have, not as in the Bouphonia an agricultural, but what 
we might call a vegetation, a tree and fruit ceremony. 

The importance of the fruit-tree and the religious reverence 
paid it come out very clearly in Mycenaean gems 2 . Not only are 
the shrine and the sacred Tree constantly and closely associated, 
but we have scenes of fruit-gathering accompanied by ritual 

1 Prof. Myres {Proceedings of Glass. Assoc. 1910) remarks that Greeks have no 
word for tree in general. 8ev5pov= fruit tree. 

2 A. J. Evans, Mycenaean Tree and Pillar Cult, J.H.S. xxi. (1901), Fig. 53. 

166 The Dithyramb, Spring- Festival, etc. [ch. 

dances and gestures. Such a scene is depicted on the gold signet- 
ring from Mycenae in Fig. 34. To the right we have a shrine 
with a pillar and a sacred Tree. A male worshipper pulls the 
fruit-laden tree downwards, as though to shake off its fruit or 
possibly to uproot it for ritual purposes. A woman figure, perhaps 
a goddess, more likely a priestess, makes ritual gestures with her 
hands, it may be to indicate hunger 1 ; a second woman leans over 
an altar table beneath which is a betyl. A similar scene is 
represented on a gold signet-ring from Vapheio 2 . Here the tree is 
planted in a pithos, and the so-called priestess is evidently dancing. 

Fig. 34. 

Primitive man then in general, and assuredly the ancient 
Cretan, is intensely concerned with the fruits of the Earth — not 
at first with the worship of Earth in the abstract, but with the 
food 3 that comes to him out of the Earth. It is mainly because 
she feeds him that he learns to think of Earth as the Mother. 
Rightly did the ancient Dove-Priestesses of Dodona sing 4 : 
Earth sends up fruits — call ye on Earth the Mother. 

1 Dr Evans in commenting on the ring, op. cit. p. 177, says, 'a gesture for 
hunger common among the American Indians may supply a useful parallel. It is 
made by passing the hands towards and backward from the sides of the body, 
denoting a gnawing sensation.' See Garrick Mallery, Pictographs of the North 
American Indians, in Fourth Annual Eeport of Bureau of Ethnology, 1886, p. 236, 
and Fig. 155, p. 235. 

2 Evans, op. cit., Fig. 52. 

3 The importance of food as a factor in civilization and the successive quest of 
roots, fruits, cereals, etc., has been well discussed by Mr E. J. Payne in his History 
of the New World called America, vol. i. pp. 276 ff. 

* Paus. x. 12. 10 

Td Kapwovs dviei, 5io /cXflfere /j-nripa yalav. 


Sanctity of Fruit- Trees 


And of these fruits, before cereals came in with settled agri- 
culture, most conspicuous and arresting would be the fruits of 
wild trees. The fruit-growing tree would be sacred, and its 
sanctity would quickly pass to other trees. There was the like 
sanctity, the like mana in all edible plants and roots, but the tree 
would stand foremost. 

Earth as the Mother because the fruit-bearer is very clearly 
shown in Fig. 35, a design from a hydria in the Museum at 
Constantinople 1 . The scene is at Eleusis, marked by the presence 
of Triptolemos in his winged car. From the earth rises Ge. In 

Fig. 35. 

her hand she bears a cornucopia, full of the fruits of the earth 
From the cornucopia rises a child. Art could not speak more 
plainly. Ge is mother because fruit-bearer. Earth then is fitly 
embodied by the primaeval fruit-bearer, the tree. 

Earth sent up fruits, but not without help from heaven. In 
the scenes of fruit-gathering this is not forgotten. On the signet- 
ring in Fig. 34 above the tree and the priestess is a rather rudi- 
mentary indication of the sky, a dotted line and what is probably 

1 S. Reinach, Rev. Arch. 1900, p. 87 ; and see also Dr Svoronos, Journal 
d'Archeologie et Numismatique, 1901, p. 387. 

168 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [oh. 

a crescent moon. If there is any doubt what is meant we have 
only to turn to the gold signet-ring from the Acropolis treasure of 
Mycenae in Fig. 36 l . Here we have the Earth-goddess or her 
priestess under her great fruit-bearing tree ; she holds poppies in 
her hand ; worshippers approach her bearing flowers and leaf- 
sprays ; behind her a woman gathers fruit, while above her is all 
the glory of Ouranos, Sun and Moon and Milky Way, and down 
from the sky come the powers of the sky, the thunder in its 

Fig. 36. 

double manifestation of shield-demon and battle-axe. The Earth 

is barren till the Thunder and the Rainstorm smite her in the 

springtime — till in his Epiphany of Thunder and Lightning 

Keraunos comes to Keraunia, the Sky-god weds Semele the Earth, 


Bride of the bladed Thunder 2 . 

In the light of the scene on the signet-ring we do not need to 
ask the significance of the axe hafted into the obelisk 3 . It is the 

1 J.H.S. 1901. 

2 Eur. Hipp. 559 (3povrrj a/jupnTvpip roK-dda. Cf. Eur. Bacch. 3 2e/tA7? \oxevdcta 
a<TTpa.Trri(p6pu) irvpl. Other instances of thunder-Brides are Alkmene, wife of Am- 
phitryon, the double-borer, the bidens, Dido wedded to Aeneas in a thunderstorm. 

3 First rightly explained by Mr A. B. Cook, Cretan Axe-Cult outside Crete, 
Transactions of the Third International Congress for the History of Beligions, 
Oxford, 1908, n. 193. 

vi] Erechtheus and the Bull-Sacrifice 169 

symbol, or rather I should prefer to say the representation, the 
emphasis of the union of the mana of Earth and Sky, of what a 
more formal, anthropoid theology would call the Sacred Marriage 
(iepos yd/j,o<;) of Ouranos and Gaia. This union, this marriage is 
further symbolized by the bird. But before we pass to the bird, 
it remains to note a curious and instructive parallel to this cult of 
axe and tree and bull, a parallel which takes us back for a moment 
to the ritual of the Bouphonia. We shall find this parallel in a 
place where we little expect it, in the Erechtheion on the Athenian 

Pausanias 1 , when he is discussing the Court of the Prytaneum 
where iron and all lifeless things were brought to trial, naturally 
thinks of the classical instance of the axe at the Bouphonia. He 
makes incidentally a statement that has not, I think, received the 
attention it deserves. ' When Erechtheus was king of the Athenians, 
the Ox-Slayer slew an ox for the first time on the altar of Zeus 
Polieus.' The Bouphonia was then traditionally connected, not 
only, nor I think primarily, with Zeus, but with Erechtheus. 

This connection of Erechtheus with the bull-sacrifice is con- 
firmed by a famous passage in the Iliad. In the Catalogue of the 
Ships 2 the contingent of the Athenians is thus described : 

Athens they held, her goodly citadel, 

Realm of Erechtheus, high of heart, whom erst 

Athene reared, daughter of Zeus, what time 

The grain-giver did bear him, and she set 

Erechtheus there in Athens, in her own 

Rich temple. There, as each Year's Feast goes round, 

The young men worship him with bulls and lambs. 

Earth is his mother, or rather the ploughed field, the tilth, the 
grain-land (apovpa). Athena, the humanized form of this earth- 
daimon, is but his foster-mother. The young men (rcovpoi), like 
the kouroi on the sarcophagos, worship him with bulls and lambs 

1 i. 28. 10. 

2 II. II. 546 o! 5' ap 'Adr/vas etyov, iiKrifxevov irToKLedpov, 

drj/xov Epex^V * ^tyaKrjTopos, ov wot 'Adrjvr] 
dpiipe Atds dvydrrip, t4ks 5e freidcopos dpovpa' 
ko.5 8 iv ' Adr/vys elaev, £t£ evl irLovi vqt£. 
tvda. 54 /jllv ratjpoLcn Kal dpveiois iXdovTai 
Kovpoi 'AOrjvaicov TrepiTeWo/xti/wv iviavTuv. 
For the present purpose it is of no consequence whether the passage is inter- 
polated or not, nor does the archaeological question of the various vrjoi concern us. 

170 The Dithyramb, Spring- Festival, etc. [ch. 

' as each Year's Feast goes round.' It is a yearly sacrifice, a year- 
sacrifice. For Athenian tcovpoi, he, Erechtheus, is their /i^yio-To? 

The whole atmosphere of the passage is agricultural ; but, 
when we ask what natural and social facts lie behind the figure 
of Erechtheus, we find ourselves surrounded by sanctities more 
primitive. The cult and character of Erechtheus must be sought, 
if anywhere, in the Erechtheion, the sanctuary which stands on the 
site of the old kings' palace of the Acropolis and which still bears 
his name, The present temple is of course a building of the end 
of the fifth century B.C. All we know certainly of its date is that 

A. (Xivt'tree. 
B- TricLerif mark 
C • Grave of 



Fig. 37. 

it was unfinished in B.C. 408. What concerns us are the ancient 
sanctities that the comparatively modern structure was built to 
enshrine and safeguard 1 . Of these for our purpose we need only 
consider three, the famous ar)/j.eia or tokens : 

A sacred olive tree, 

A 'sea' or well called after Erechtheus ('Epe^^i''?), 

A ' trident ' mark. 

The disposition of trident-mark and olive tree is seen in Fig. 37 

The well must have been close to the hol} r tree. 

1 A discussion of the topography of the Erechtheion will be found in my Ancient 
Athens, 1890, p. 481, and my more recent views as to the disposition of the annua 

vi] Cults of the Pandroseion 171 

When we hear of the trident-mark, the salt sea-wel] and the 
olive tree, we think instinctively of the west pediment of the 
Parthenon, of the great strife between Athena and Poseidon for 
the land of Attica. The salt sea-well and the trident-mark are 
' tokens,' we are told, of the defeat of Poseidon ; the olive is the 
I token ' of the triumph of Athena. An awkward story for theology 
and one that required much adjustment and subsequent peace- 
making, as the rivals Athena and Poseidon had to share a sanctuary. 
The story is as untrue as it is awkward. If we would understand 
the 'tokens,' we must get back behind these intrusive, grasping 
Olympians and see what the sanctities themselves signify before 
they were anyone's ' tokens.' 

The olive grew in the Pandroseion 1 ; it also grew in the older 
Erechtheion, in its precinct at least, if not in the actual building. 
Herodotus 2 says, ' There is on this Acropolis a temple of Erechtheus 
who is called Earth-born, and in it are an olive tree and a sea 
which according to current tradition among the Athenians Poseidon 
and Athena planted as tokens when they contended for the 
country.' What has the olive to do with Erechtheus ? Again the 
Hagia Triada sarcophagos explains. In the obelisks, the artificial 
tree-posts, are planted the thunder-axes that bring the rain-storm 
to fertilize the earth. From that marriage springs the tree. 
The trident-mark, we have already seen (p. 92), was no symbol of 
the sea-god, but, as was shown by the hole in the roof, it was the 
token of Kataibates, the Descender from the sky. According to 
Hyginus 3 Erechtheus was smitten not by the trident of Poseidon, 
but by the lightning of Zeus, at the request of Poseidon. The 
well too we may conjecture only became brackish when Erechtheus 
the Earth-shaker, Phytalmios, Nurturer of plants, took on a sea- 
god's attributes. 

in Primitive Athens, 1906, p. 39, from which Fig. 37 is taken. The view here taken 
of Erechtheus as Thunder-god was first proposed by O. Gilbert, Gr. Gotterlehre, 
1898, p. 170, and is adopted by Dr E. Petersen in Die Burgtempel der Athenaia, 
1907, p. 73. 

1 A close analogy to the Pandroseion at Athens is offered by the Pantheion at 
Olympia, in which grew the sacred olive-tree (Aristotle, Qav/macria d/coiVjuaTa, 51, 
and Schol. ad Ar. Plut. 586). This Pantheion bad obviously nothing to do with 
' all the gods.' It was simply the ' altogether holy place.' Cf. the Tr&vdeios reXerri of the 

j Orphic Hymns. For the Pantheion see L. Weniger, Der heilige Oelbanm in Olympia, 
I Weimar Programm No. 701, 1895, but unhappily Dr Weniger, spite of the evidence 

he brings together, clings to the old view that the Pantheion was in our modern 

sense a Pantheon. 

2 vm. 55. 3 Fab. 46 ab love, Neptuni rogatu, fulmine est ictus. 

172 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

In the light of the Hagia Triada sarcophagos it is all quite 
simple and clear. As there, so here, we have an olive tree : 

The holy bloom of the olive, whose hoar leaf 
High on the shadowy shrine of Pandrosos 
Hath honour of us all. 

Apollodorus 1 says that Athena came after Poseidon and having 
made Kekrops witness of her seizure («aTaA,^'-v/re&)?), planted the 
olive which now is shown in the Pandroseion. Athena is mani- 
festly a superfluous interloper. There is a holy tree whose name 
we may conjecture was the 'All Dewy One.' It was tended by 
maidens who did the service of the Hersephoria ; the Dew-carrying 
Maidens to this day go out before the dawn to catch the dew of 
May Day which is magical for bloom and health. The Hersephoria, 
the Dew Service, took place on the 13th of Skirophorion, the night 
before the Bouphonia 2 . It is natural to ask, Was there any 
possible connection between the two ? 

Not far from the statue and altar of Zeus Polieus on the Acro- 
polis, where the Bouphonia was enacted, there was, Pausanias tells 
vis, an image of Ge praying to Zeus for rain 3 . Cut in the living rock 
about a dozen yards north of the Parthenon is an inscription near 
to a basis that once held a votive statue ' Of Ge the Fruit-bearer 
according to the oracle 4 .' Possibly the lost statue was the very 
image seen by Pausanias. Ge prayed to Zeus in his capacity of 
Hyetios, the Rainy. A contemporary of Lucian, Alciphron by 
name, has left us in his imaginary letters 5 some details of the 
cult of Zeus Hyetios. A certain Thalliskos writes as follows to 
Petraios : 

A drought is upon us. Not a cloud is to be seen in the sky, and we 
want a regular downpour. You have only to look at the ploughed land to 
see how dreadfully parched the soil is. I am afraid all our sacrifices to 

1 in. 14. 2. 

2 For the evidence see Moramsen, Heortologie, p. 44. The month Skirophorion 
is certain, for the Etymologicum Magnum says of the dppr)(popia- eopri) iiriTeXovfieini 
ttj 'A07]i>qi kv tiZ 2,Ktpo<j>opiuii>i p.rjvL. The exact day, the 13th, is not certain, but 
highly probable. Suidas says of the Bouphonia, eopri] TraXaia r\v <paav dyeadou 
yuerd to. /j.v<rTripLa. The avar-qpia cannot be the Eleusinian mysteries which were 
celebrated in Boedromion (September), they may well be the Arrephoria, which 
were certainly mysterious. The Etym. Mag. explains the word as applied 7rapd rb 
dpprjra ko.1 /mvaTTjpta (fyipeiv. 

3 P. i. 24. 3. 

4 For facsimile of inscription see my Mythology and Monuments of Ancient 
Athens, p. 415. 

5 Alk. Epist. in. 35. For the poyyla. of Zeus Hyetios at Didymoi see 
B. Haussoullier, Le Culte de Zeus a Didymes in Melanges Weil, 1898, p. 147. 

vi] The Bo aphonia as Rain- Charm 173 

Jupiter Pluvius have gone for nothing, and yet all we villagers outdid each 
other to make a good sacrificial show. Each man brought what he could 
according to his means and ability. One brought a ram, another a goat, 
another some fruit, the poor man brought a cake, and the positive pauper 
some lumps of decidedly mouldy incense. No one could run to a bull, for 
our Attic soil is thin and cattle are scarce. But we might have saved our 
expense. Zeus it would seem is ' on a journey ' and cannot attend to us. 

We begin to suspect that the sacrifice of the bull in the 
Bouphonia was a rain ' charm,' later a ' sacrifice to Zeus Hyetios,' 
and this, it may be, explains a stoange detail in the ritual. Among 
the attendants at the sacrifice were certain maidens called Water- 
Carriers (v8po(f)6poi). They brought the water, Porphyry 1 says, to 
sharpen the knife and the axe. But for such a function was it 
necessary that maidens should be carefully selected ? Is it not at 
least possible that the water poured on the holy axe was to act as 
a rain ' charm ' ? The axe was the symbol, the presentation of the 
Sky-Zeus ; what acted prayer could be more potent, more magical, 
than to sprinkle the axe with water 2 ? 

Be this as it may, we can scarcely avoid the conclusion that 
the Bouphonia and the Hersephoria, widely different in character 
though they were, had the same intent, to induce the sky to let 
fall upon the parched earth its rain or dew, that so the sacred 
olive, and with it all other plants and crops, might blossom and 
bear fruit. The Hersephoria was to induce the fall of fertilizing 
dew 3 . According to a wide-spread belief, the dew gathered on 
Midsummer Night had special potency to beautify and bless 4 . 
Dew, according to common credence, falls thickest on the night of 
the full moon, and the Hersephoria took place on the night of the 

1 de Abst. II. 30 vdpocpopovs vapdevovs KariXe^av at 5' vdwp nofiifovaiv, ottojs rbv 
ir^XeKvv Kal ttjv ixaxai-pav aKovqawaLv. 

2 This delightful suggestion is entirely due to Mr A. B. Cook, by whose 
permission I mention it. 

3 See my Prolegomena, p. 122, note 2. The dew was unquestionably regarded 
as the fertilizing seed of the Sky-God. Mr A. B. Cook draws my attention to 
a passage in the Dionysiaka of Nonnus (vn. 144 ff.), where Semele in a dream sees 
the fate to come upon her (her bridal with Zeus), in the vision of a tree, watered by 
the eternal dew of the son of Kronos : 

HXirero KaXXnreT-qXov Idelv (pvrbv ZvboOt ktjttov 
ZyxXoov, oidaXtu) j3e(3apr)[iei>ov o/j.<pa.Ki Kapirip 

Kal 2e/uA?7 <pvrbv rjev. 
A bird carries the fruit of the tree to tbe lap of Zeus, and from him a full-grown 
bull-man is born. 

4 Brand H. Ellis, Popular Antiquities of Great Britain, 1849, i. 218 ; P. Sebillot, 
Folk-Lore de France, 1904, i. 94. 

174 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

last full moon of the Attic year 1 . The maidens gathered their 
dew in the precinct of Ourania in the Gardens. The Bouphonia 
was an appeal to the sterner powers of the sky, to thunder, and 
lightning, and the rain-storm. 

It is worth noting that an invocation of dew for the fertilization 

of man and plants and cattle forms part of an Epiphany hpw^evov 

that goes on in the island of Imbros 2 to-day. A sort of 'aetio- 

logical myth ' is chanted, telling of the ' Baptism of Christ.' Our 

Lady goes down to Jordan, takes water, washes and then entreats 

S. John Baptist to baptize the Holy Child. S. John makes 

answer : 

Let him wait till the morn 

That I may ascend into heaven, 

To send down dew upon earth, 

That the master and his lady may be bedewed, 

That the mothers and their children be bedewed, 

That the plains with the trees be bedewed, 

That the springs and the waters be bedewed, 

That the cattle may be tame, 

And the idols may fall down. 

We find ourselves in full magic, S. John the Baptist and the 
Baptism of life-giving dew — the New Birth. S. John must 
ascend, must become a ' sky-god,' before he can descend. 

If, spite of the conjunction of thunder-axe and tree on the 
sarcophagos, the thunder-god Erechtheus and the olive tree strike 
us still as dissonant, we may find conviction when it appears that 
the same strange marriage is found in the lower city. In the 
Academy Pausanias 3 saw an olive plant, said to have been the 
second to appear. It was doubtless fabled to have been a graft 
from the sacred olive of the Acropolis. All olive trees throughout 
Attica which could claim this high descent were called Moriae 
(propagated, /xe/xopr]/j,evai) and were protected by special sanctions 
under the immediate care of the Areopagos 4 . They were also 

1 Gruppe, Gr. Mytholpgie und Religion, p. 34. The whole question of the dew 
and rain aspects of the Sky-god will be fully discussed by Mr A. B. Cook in his 
forthcoming work 'Zeus,' chapter ii. § 8, 'Zeus and the Dew,' § g 'Zeus and the 
Rain,' § h Zeus Hyetios n. Diipoleia. Since the above was written it has been 
shown by Dr E. Maass (A. Mitt. xxxv. 3, p. 337, Aglaurion) that Aglauros is a well- 
nymph, goddess of the clear shining water, of a-y\abv vdup. She and her sisters 
are therefore a trinity of water and dew. 

2 I owe my knowledge of this interesting spng to the kindness of Mr A. Wace, 
who allowed me to see a proof of his forthcoming article on North Greek Festivals. 

a I. 30. 2 /ecu <pvrov ecrriv eXaias, dtvrepov tovto Xeydfievov (pavrjvai. 
4 See Lysias, Orat. 7. 

vi] Zeus Kataibates and the Olive 175 

under the special charge of Zeus Morios. His altar was in the 
Academy and he was worshipped, we learn to our delight, not 
only as Morios but as Kataibates 1 . Later moralists would explain 
that this was because he avenged sacrilege by lightning ; the real 
truth lies deeper and is benignant ; he, the rain and thunder-god, 
fertilized the earth and brought forth the sacred olives. 

The scholiast who gives us this welcome information about 
Zeus, who is both Morios and Kataibates, is commenting on the 
famous chorus in praise of Athens in the Oedipus Coloneus' 2 : 

And this country for her own has what no Asian land has known, 

Nor ever yet in the great Dorian Pelops' island has it grown, 

The untended, the self-planted, self-defended from the foe, 

Sea-gray children-nurturing olive tree that here delights to grow. 

None may take nor touch nor harm it, headstrong youth nor age grown 

For the round of heaven of Morian Zeus has been its watcher from of 

He beholds it and, Athene, thy own sea-gray eyes behold. 

Athena with her sea-gray eyes we expect : watching her olive 
tree she is canonical ; but, to most readers, the round eye of 
Morian Zeus comes as something of a surprise. If we remember 
the afiarov on the Acropolis, with the lightning trident-mark and 
the hole in the roof, we wonder no longer that the old sky-god, 
with his round eye, should be looking down on his own olive tree. 
What was a mere poetical image becomes a ritual reality and 
gathers the fresh bloom of a new if somewhat homely beauty. 
Nor is it only a poet praising his own city who remembers such 
local sanctities. Aeschylus in the Danaides 3 told of the sacred 

1 Apollodorus, ap. Schol. ad Soph. Oe.d. Col. 705 wepi 'AKadrmLav karlv 6 re rod 
KaTaifidrov Aids /3w,u.os 5c Kai Mopiov KaXovcri [oVo] twv eicei iiopi&v. 

2 Soph. Oed. Col. 704 

6 yap alev opwv kijkXos 
\e\j<j<rei vlv Mopiou Aids 
X<z -y\ai;/cuJ7rts ' Addva. 
The translation in the text is by Mr D. S. MacColl. 

3 Nauck, frg. 44, ap. Athen. xm. 600 Kai 6 o-efivbraTos 6" AiVxt'Xos iv rah 
Aava'tcnv avTrjv irap&yei tt]v ' A<ppo8Lrriv Xeyovcrav 

ipd p.Zv ayvos ovpavbs rp&aat. x@° va < 

£pws 5e yaiav \a/j.fiavei yd/uLov rvxew 

6fj.^pos 8' air evvarfipos ovpavod irtaLov 

efSucre yaiav ' r) 5£ riKTerai pporois 

p.r)\(i)v re j3ocrKds Kai fiiov Ar]p.r)Tpiov 

divSpuv tis ilpa S £k voti^ovtos yavovs 

t4\€l6s i<TTi • tCovS' iyd Trapalrios. 
Trans. Murray. The ydvos of the fragment recalls the irayKparris yavovs of the 
Hymn of the Kouretes, see p. 7. 

176 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

marriage of Earth and Sky. He puts the words into the mouth 
of Aphrodite, goddess in later days of human passion, but we seem 
to stand in the ancient Cretan shrine, with about us the symbols 
of Ouranos, the lightning-axe and the bird, and Gaia, the up- 
springing tree dew-watered, and we hear words august and 
venerable which tell of things that were before man and may 
outlast him : 

Lo, there is hunger in the holy Sky- 
To pierce the body of Earth, and in Earth too 
Hunger to meet his arms. So falls the rain 
From Heaven that is her lover, making moist 
The bosom of Earth ; and she brings forth to man 
The flocks he feeds, the corn that is his life. 
To trees no less there cometh their own hour 
Of marriage which the gleam of watery things 
Makes fruitful — Of all these the cause am I. 

By the time of Aeschylus most men had probably forgotten 
that the Danaides, the heroines of the play, were the water- 
bearers, the well-nymphs who watered thirsty Argos 1 ; but, 
when Aphrodite made her great speech, there was not an 
initiated man in the theatre but would remember the final 
ceremonial of the Eleusinian mysteries — how, looking up to 
heaven, they cried aloud, ve, 'rain,' and looking down to earth, 
Kve. ' be fruitful.' 

We return now to the other side of the sarcophagos, on which 
the sacrifice of the bull is depicted. The remainder of the scene 
towards the right is given somewhat enlarged in Fig. 38. Here 
we have what, with the Acropolis of Athens in our minds 2 , 
we might call a Pandroseion : an olive tree in a sanctuary, 
surmounted by bulls' horns, and the thunder-axe on the bare 
obelisk standing for Erechtheus. Upon the thunder-axe is 
perched a bird 3 . 

1 Prolegomena, p. 620. 

- Prolegomena, p. 161. 

3 I conjecture that the Bouphonia on the Acropolis and its relation to the 
Erechtheion and the olive tree date back to the days when Athens was but 
a tributary of the great Minoan thalassocracy. Sopatros, we remember (p. 142), 
was a native of Crete. The religious dependence of Athens on Crete outlasted the 
political strife, as Solon witnessed when he sent for Epimenides to purify Athens, 
see p. 52. For the Cretan origin of the Bouphonia see Mr Cook, J.H.S. xiv. 131. 


The Cuckoo as Spring-Bird 


Upon the thunder-axe we expect to see the thunder-bird of 
Zeus, the eagle, but this is assuredly no eagle, however 'con- 
ventionally treated.' It is the bird of spring, with heavy flight 
and mottled plumage, the cuckoo 1 . 

When first the cuckoo cuckoos in the oak, 
Gladdening men's hearts over the boundless earth, 
Then may Zeus rain?. 

Fig. 38. 

1 Many birds have been suggested. The raven has the high authority of 
Mr Warde Fowler; Dr Hans Gadow suggested to me the magpie. The woodpecker 
was tempting, because of the analogy between ire\eKvs and weXeK&v, but as 
Dr Petersen (op. cit. p. 163) points out, the pose of the bird, with wings open, not 
closed, when perching, is characteristic of the cuckoo, though here it may be 
depicted to show the bird has just alighted. The particular bird intended is not 
of great moment. The idea, the coming of a life-spirit from the sky, is the same 
whatever bird be the vehicle. I have elsewhere (Bird and Pillar-Worship in 
connexion with Ouranian divinities, in Transactions of the Third International 
Congress for the History of Religions, Oxford, 1908, n. p. 154) hazarded the 
conjecture, suggested by Mr Cook, that the ritual robe of the celebrant and other 
worshippers on the sarcopha'gos is a feather dress ending in a bird-tail — but Sig. 
Paribeni has brought evidence, op. cit. p. 17, to show that the feather-like drawing 
on the robe is used to indicate a bull's skin. 

2 Hesiod, Op. 486 ; see p. 97. 



178 The Dithyramb, Spring -Festival, etc. 

That is the prayer in the heart of the priestess, and she utters 
it, emphasizes it, by her offering of water which she has poured 
out of the high jug into the basin before her, over which she lays 
her hands, perhaps in token that the water is the rain-bath (Xovrpd) 
of the earth's bridal. Above are the fruit-shaped cakes (fid^ai), 
for it is food that the cuckoo of spring is to bring her. 

The picture speaks for itself; it is the passing of winter and 
the coming of spring, the passing of the Old Year, the incoming 
of the New, it is the Death and Resurrection of Nature, her New 
Birth. Clearly though this is represented, it confuses us a little 
at first by its fulness and by its blend of animal and vegetable 
and atmospheric life, of tree and bull and bird and thunder-axe 1 . 
All this, so natural, so inevitable to the primitive mind, to us, who 
have lost the sense of common kinship and common mana, seems 
artificial, metaphorical. We need first to meditate over it, to 
disentangle its various strands, before, by an effort of imagination, 
we can do what, if we would understand aright, is supremely 
necessary, think ourselves back into the primaeval fusion of things, 
a fusion always unconsciously present in the mind of poet and 

It is the springtime of man and bird and flower : 

Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. 

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone ; 

The flowers appear on the earth ; 

The time of the singing of birds is come, 

And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. 

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, 

And the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. 

Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away 2 . 

Again in the thirteenth-century roundel 3 : 

Sumer is icumen in, 

Lhude sing cuccu ! 
Groweth sed and bloweth med, 

And springth the wde nu, 

Sing cuccu ! 
Awe bleteth after lomb, 

Lhouth after calve cu, 
Bulloc sterteth, bucke verteth, 

Murie sing cuccu ! 

1 Just such a blend of tree, bird, bull, thunder, dew and humanity, is found 
in Semele's tree, see p. 173, note 3. 

2 Song of Solomon, ii. 10. 

3 See E. K. Chambers, Mediaeval Stage, 1903, i. 168. 

vi] Bridal of Earth and Sky 179 

It is the bridal of the Earth and Sky, the New Birth of the 

World : 

Cras amet qui nunquam amavit, quique amavit eras amet, 
Ver novum, ver jam canorum ver renatus orbis est, 
Vere concordant amores, vere nubunt alites, 
Et nemus comam resolvit de maritis imbribus 1 . 

So the poet, but the common man who has no words with 

which to speak is yet a poet in his own way, and the drama of 

winter and spring, death and life, he feels, and makes of it 

a Spcofievov, a ritual. Theopompos, according to Plutarch 2 , relates 


Those who dwell in the west account and call the Winter Kronos and 
the Summer Aphrodite, the Spring Persephone, and from Kronos and 
Aphrodite all things take their birth. And the Phrygians think that in the 
Winter the god is asleep, and that in the Summer he is awake, and they 
celebrate to him Bacchic revels, which in rvinter are Goings to Sleep, and in 
summer Wakings-up. And the Paphlagonians allege that in winter the god is 
bound down and imprisoned, and in spring aroused and set free again. 

Such rites are not only for the outlet of man's emotion, not 
only for the emphasis of that emotion by representation, they are, 
as we have seen all rites tend to be, the utterance of his desire 
and will, they are pre-presentations of practical magical intent 
And this in very definite fashion ; for, though man does not live 
by bread alone, without his daily bread he cannot live. 

The cuckoo is summoned to bring new life to the tree, dead in 
the winter, to bring the rain that will bring the food-fruits. The 
water and cakes are as it were a visualized prayer, they are ei^ai. 
But when the gods are formulated and become men and women, 
when Zeus and Hera have supplanted Ouranos and Gaia, then the 
coming of the cuckoo takes on the shape of human wedlock. 
jj Women,' says Praxinoe to Gorgo, in the famous Syracusan Idyll 
of Theocritus 3 , ' Women know everything, 

Yes, and how Zeus married Hera,' 

1 Pervigilium Veneris. 

2 de Isid. et Osir. lxix. <£>pijyes de rbv debv olbfievot x^^vos Ka0erjdei.u dipovs 
5 eyp-qyopivai, Tore /xev Ka.Tevvaafj.ovs, rbre 8' dveyipcreis fiaKxevovres aury reXovcn. 
Ila(j>\ay6ves de Karabeiadai Kai Ka&eipyvvadai x«/xcDi'os, yjpos 5£ KLveicrdat nai dvaXve<rdai 
<pd<rKov<n. See my Prolegomena, p. 128. 

3 xv. 64 

iravra yvvaiKes 'iaavri, koI Cos Zei>s ayayed' "Hpav. 
The expression is clearly proverbial, and no doubt arose not from the secrecy of the 
marriage, but — when the meaning of the cuckoo myth was forgotten — from its 
strangeness. It is one of the stories which Pausauias (n. 17. 5) says he (fortunately 
for us) ' records but does not accept.' 


180 The Dithyramb, Spring -Festival, etc. [ch. 

and the scholiast on the passage, quoting, he says, from Aristotle's 
treatise on the sanctuary of Herraione, thus tells the tale : 

Zeus planned to marry Hera and wishing to be invisible and not to be 
seen by her he changed his shape into that of a cuckoo and perched on 
a mountain, which, to begin with, was called Thronax, but now is called 
Cuckoo. And on that day Zeus made a mighty storm. Now Hera was 
walking alone and she came to the mountain and sat down on it, where now 
there is the sanctuary of Hera Teleia. And the cuckoo was frozen and 
shivering from the storm, so it flew down and settled on her knees. And 
Hera, seeing it, had pity and covered it with her cloak. And Zeus straightway 
changed his shape and caught hold of Hera... .The image of Hera in the 
temple (at Argos) is seated on a throne, and she holds in her hand a sceptre, 
and on the sceptre is a cuckoo. 

Pausanias confirms or perhaps quotes Aristotle. In one detail 
he corrects him. Aristotle mentions a statue of Full-grown or 
Married 1 (reXela) Hera on the Cuckoo-Mountain, but Pausanias in 
describing the site says, ' there are two mountains, and on the top 
of each is a sanctuary, on Cuckoo-mountain is a sanctuary of Zeus 
and on the other mountain called Pron there is a sanctuary of 
Hera.' Be that as it may, behind the figure of Father Zeus 
we have the Bridegroom-Bird and the wedding that is a rain- 
storm 2 . 

it ^ 

Fig. 39 a. 

Fig. 39 b. 

The Bird-Lover lives on in a beautiful series of coin-types from 
Gortyna in Crete 3 . In the first of these (Fig. 39 a), we have a 

1 That the surname Teleia, ' complete,' practically means ' married ' is certain 
from another passage in Pausanias (vin. 22. 2). Temenos, the son of Pelasgos, he 
says, who dwelt in old Stymphalos, founded three sanctuaries in honour of the 
goddess and gave her three surnames : while she was yet a girl he called her Child 
(irais), ichen she married Zeus he called her Teleia, when she quarrelled with Zeus 
he called her Widow (xnpa.). 

2 Cf. the wedding of Dido and Aeneas in the thunderstorm (Verg. JEn. iv. 160), 
where the background of the elemental wedding of earth and sky is manifest. 

3 Svoronos, Numismatique de la Crete, vol. i. xm. 2219, xiv. 16 and 18, xv. 7. 
Mr Cook, to whom I owe my knowledge of these coins, favours M. Svoronos's 
explanation, that the nymph is Britomartis. The evidence scarcely seems to me 
sufficient ; see Zeus, Jupiter and the Oak, Class. Kev. 1903, p. 405. 


Bird, Bull and Tree in Crete 


maiden seated disconsolate in a barren, leafless tree. In the second 
(Fig. 39 6), the same maiden is seated, but the pose is less desolate ; 
she lifts her head and the tree is breaking out into leaf. In the 
third (Fig. 40 a) a bird comes, perching timidly, the tree blossoms 
and fruits. In the fourth (Fig. 40 b) the maiden is a bride, a 

Fig. 40 a. 

Fig. 40 6. 

nymph ; she raises her head with the gesture characteristic of Hera. 
In the fifth (Fig. 41 a) the maiden cherishes the bird, as Hera, in 
the myth, cherished the Bridegroom-Cuckoo in the rainstorm. 
She is a royal bride with a sceptre, and on the sceptre is a bird. 

Fig. 41a. 

Fig. ilb. 

In the sixth (Fig. 41 b) the bird is a royal bird, an eagle, and 
with his great sanctity he overshadows both tree and maid. And, 
delightful thing, amid all this beauty of bird and spring and maid 
and tree, the old bull is not forgotten. His irrelevant head is 
seen peering through the branches. 

Fig. 42 a. 

Fig. 42 6. 

The seventh coin (Fig. 42 a) offers us a riddle as yet unread. 
We have the nymph seated on the tree as usual, but between the 

182 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

upper branches of the tree, and continuing down actually on the 
leftmost branch, is an inscription 1 in early Corinthian letters, 
T5MVP05. Ticrvpoi. The word is in the nominative plural, not 
the ordinary genitive of place. Does 'Ticrvpoi' stand for 'Tityroi'? 
And does Tityroi stand for ' play of the Tityroi,' as Satyroi stands 
for ' play of the Satyrs ' ? Can the inscription refer to a Spco- 
fxevov, a Satyr-play of the return of spring, the blossoming of the 
tree, and the marriage of the maiden ? On the reverse of all 
these coins the type is a bull (Fig. 42 b). Was the Bpco/xevov 
accompanied, as on the sarcophagos, by a bull-sacrifice ? 

In Athens, then, we have the uncouth Spcofievov of the Bou- 
phonia with its mimic resurrection of the ox ; in Crete, on the 
sarcophagos, we have the new life of spring represented and 
induced by a 8pco/j,€vov of obelisks leaf-covered, with thunder-axes 
and spring birds. Now the Bouphonia was celebrated, as has 
been seen, at the last full moon of the Attic year, in midsummer, 
when the land was parched. Its object w r as to induce dew ; the 
Cretan Spwfievov was manifestly, like the sacrifice of the bull at 
Magnesia, celebrated in spring. This brings us straight to the 
question of seasonal festivals, and takes us back to the Hymn of 
the Kouretes. 

In the refrain, it will be remembered (p. 8), the Kouros is 
bidden to come to Dikte ' for the Year ' (e? iviavrov), and, when 
the aetiological myth has been recounted, it is said 'the Horae 
began to be fruitful year by year,' [*Q.pai Se ftp\vov icarr/ros. 
Not only was the Kouros bidden to come for the Year, but if 
we may credit Aratus 2 , the Kouretes of Dikte, when they deceived 
Kronos, hid Zeus in the cave and reared him for the Year («s 

1 The inscription was read as Ticrvpoi by Dr von Sallet, who first published the 
coin in the Zeitschrift f. Numismatik, vi. p. 263. See also W. W. Wroth, Cretan 
Coins in Numismatic Chronicle, rv. 1884, p. 35. The suggestion that Tiavpoi may 
indicate a Spu/xevov of Tityroi is due to Mr A. B. Cook. For Tityros as goat-daemon 
see Paul Baur, Tityros in American Journal of Archaeology, ix. 1905, PI. v. p. 157. 
The goat-daemon here published holds a cornucopia. 

2 Phaen. 163, 164 


ALktwi ev evuiSei, 6peos crx e ^ ov 'ISat'oto, 

dvTpwt. eyKaridevro kcu Zrpecpov els eviavrov , 

AiKTouoi KovpT)res ore Kpdvov exf/evSovTo. 

For AiVtwi should probably be read Xvktwi. Diels, Fry. d. Vors. n. p. 497, attributes 

this legend to the Kretika of Epimenides. 


The Year- Festival 183 

The expression 'for the Year' is somewhat enigmatic. It 
should be carefully noted that the 'Year' for which the Kouros 
is 'summoned ' and ' reared ' is not an eVo? but an iviavros 1 . The 
two words are in Homer frequently juxtaposed 2 , and the mere 
fact of the juxtaposition shows that they are distinguished. 
What then exactly is an eVtat/To<? 3 , how does it differ from an eVo?, 
and why is the Kouros summoned for an iviavTos rather than 
an eros ? 

The gist of the ivtavros as distinguished from, the eVo? comes 
out in the epithet Te\e<T(f>6po<; ' end bringing,' which is frequently 
applied to iviavTos*. The eVo? or year proper is conceived of as 
a circle or period that turns round 5 . This eVo? varies, as will 
presently be seen, from a month to nine years or even longer. 
The iviavTos is not a whole circle or period but just the point 
at which the revolution is completed, the end of the old eVo? 6 , 
the beginning of the new. It is easy to see that this significant 
point might later be confused with the whole revolution 7 . 

1 The distinction is marked in the translation (p. 9) by a capital letter, and 
throughout, whenever Year is a rendering of eviavrbs. 

2 E.g. Od. xiv. 292 

eV#<x Trap? avriZ fieTva Te\ea<p6pov ei's euiavrbv. 
d\\' ore 5rj fxijv^s re Kal rjfj.ipai i^erfXedfro, 
ai^ irepireWofJifrou eVeos /cat iirrjKvdov o)pai. 

3 The view of the eviavrbs given here is entirely due to Dr Prellwitz, Eine 
griechische Etymologie, in Festschrift fiir Friedlander (1895), p. 382. Dr Prellwitz 
is concerned only with the etymology and literary interpretation of eviavrbs and is 
of course in no way responsible for the conclusions I draw as to ritual. 

4 See Od. xiv. 210. 

5 The participle naturally associated with eVos as well as with eviavrbs is 
TrepireWd/xevos, of which the aorist, in form as well as in use, has been shown by 
Dr Prellwitz (op. cit.) to be irepnr\bfj.evos. The word irb\os means axis, point 
round which you turn, and its root ttoX, reduplicated and in guttural form, appears 
in kvkXos. The original (/-sound appears in Greek before e as a dental, before 
a liquid followed by weak o as tt. 

6 eVos is of course a cognate of the Latin vetus and means the completed 
revolution of the old year, cf. also ai vatsa 'year,' ksl vetuchu 'old, : and Albanian 
viet 'year.' Though eVos has many cognates, iviavrbs has none. All attempts to 
connect it with eVos fail because the a remains unexplained. This inclines us 
to accept Dr Prellwitz's derivation, which at first sight — perhaps because Plato 
makes an analogous guess — seems grotesque. Dr Prellwitz makes eviavrbs a 
nominative formed from a prepositional clause ivi-avrip, originally evl-av r<ji 
' at-again-the point.' This admirably suits the new meaning. 'Eviavrbs on this 
showing is 'Here we are again' incarnate. 

7 The scholiast on Ar. Ran. 347 

aTrocrelovTai 5e \u7ras 
Xpov'iovs [e'rcDi/] waXaiovs r eviavrovs 
says: fyreirai wus el^e^ eviavrovs erwv, eirel iros Kal eviavrbs ravrbv ; but the Etymo- 
logicum Magnum carefully defines iviavrbs thus: dnb roO ev eavrio Uvai' airb yap 
toO K^vrpov Kal rov bpl^ovros ov rjv 6 r/'Xtos Kara, rbv ~\ldpriov pirjva, di' o\ov Kivotifievos rod 
Xpbvov ev eKeivy irdXiv tpxerai ws Kal b Xpiarbs dwb rod irarpbs. 

184 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

The iviavros then was the cardinal turning-point of the year, 
it was evq teal vea in one. Such a day to ancient thinking must 
be marked out by rites de passage, for the issues were perilous. 
Such rites de 'passage are those of Closing and Opening, of Going 
to sleep and Waking up again, of Death and Resurrection, of 
killing or carrying out the Old Year and bringing in the New. 
To such rites it was natural, nay, it was necessary, to summon the 

We have now briefly to consider the eVo? or period of 
revolution with its varying lengths and various seasons. 

We think of the ' year ' as a period of twelve months, beginning 
in January and ending in December, and we think of the Horae 
or Seasons as four in number — Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. 
Clear ly the year for which the Kouros is bidden to come begins, 
not in Hecatombaion, at Midsummer, as at Athens, nor in mid- 
winter as with us, but in the springtime. Our year with its 
four seasons is a sun-year, beginning about the winter solstice. 
It has four seasons because the four cardinal sun-periods are 
the two solstices, winter and summer, the two equinoxes, spring 
and autumn. 

The important point about a year proper or ero? is that it is 
a recurrent period of a length that varies with man's particular 
methods of counting time. It is, in fact, a recurrence or cycle of 
times of special tension and interest, a calendar of festivals 1 
connected mainly with man's food-supply. Broadly speaking, the 
distinction between a cult and a rite is that a rite is occasional, 
a cult is recurrent. Seasonal recurrence has been one great, if 
not the principal, factor in religious stability. 

It is obvious that primitive man would not base his calendar 
on solstices and equinoxes which are only observed late ; his year 
would be based not on astronomy, but on the seasons of his food- 
supply. Among the early inhabitants of Europe 2 there were two 
seasons only — winter and summer. The people being mainly 
pastoral, winter began in November with the driving home of 

1 Hubert et Mauss, La Representation du Temps dans la Religion et la Magie in 
Melanges d'Histoire des Religions, 1909, p. 189; see also the interesting chapter on 
'Periodicity in Nature' in Dr Whitehead's Introduction to Mathematics in the 
Home University Library. 

2 E. K. Chambers, Mediaeval Stage, i. pp. 110 ff. 

vi] The Year and the Seasons 185 

cattle from the pastures, and summer when they were driven up 
again to the hills somewhere about March. When and where 
agriculture is important, the year opens with the season of 
ploughing and sowing. The Greeks themselves had at first two, 
not three, Horae. In early days it is not realized that the Seasons, 
and with them the food-supply, depend on the Sun. The Seasons, 
the Horae, are potencies, divinities in themselves, and there are 
but two Seasons, the fruitful and the fruitless. 

The year and the seasons derive then their value, as was 
natural, from the food they bring. They are not abstractions, 
divisions of time ; they are the substance, the content of time. 
To make of eviavros a god, or even a daimon, seems to us, even 
when he is seen to be not a year but a Year-Feast, a chilly 
abstraction, and even the Horae as goddesses seem a little remote. 
But to the Greeks, as we see abundantly on vase-paintings, their 
virtue, their very being, was in the flowers and fruits they always 
carry in their hands ; they are indistinguishable from the Charites, 
the Gift- and Grace-Givers. The word Hora, it is interesting to 
note 1 , seems at first to have been almost equivalent to Weather. 
In a drought the Athenians, Philochoros 2 tells us, sacrificed to the 
Horae, and on this occasion they boiled their meat and did not 
roast it, thereby inducing the goddesses to give increase to their 
crops by means of moderate warmth and seasonable rains. As 
warders of Olympos it is theirs to ' throw open the thick cloud or 
set it to 3 .' 

Athenaeus 4 has preserved for us a fragment of the fourth book 
of the History of Alexandria by Kallixenos the Rhodian. In it 
is described a great spectacle and procession exhibited by Ptolemy 
Philadelphos in honour of Dionysos 5 . One group in the procession 
is of interest to us. The procession was headed by Silenoi clad, 

1 0. Gruppe, Gr. Myth. n. 1063, note 3. Dr Gruppe compares the Latin tempus, 
tempestas, which again shows clearly the focus of the primitive mind on the 
practical side of times and seasons. 

2 Ap. Athen. xiv. 73 'A6r)vcuoi 5\ ws <f>7]<n $i\6xopo$, Ttus"ftpcus dvovres ovk otttCictlv, 
d\V 'iipovoi to. Kpia. 

8 Horn. II. v. 751 

7]/j.ii> avaKXivai irvKivbv vicpos tjo' eiridetvai. 

4 v. 27. 198. 

5 As Macedonians all the Ptolemies were addicted to the worship of Dionysos. 
The ceremonies to which they were addicted probably enshrined and revived 
many primitive traits. See the interesting monograph by M. Paul Perdrizet, Le 
Fragment de Satyros in Eev. des Etudes Anciennes, 1910. 

186 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [oh. 

some in purple, some in scarlet, to keep off the multitude ; next 
followed twenty Satyrs bearing lamps ; next figures of Nike with 
golden wings ; then Satyrs again, forty of them, ivy-crowned, their 
bodies painted, some purple, some vermilion. So far it is clear 
we have only the ministrants, the heralds of the god to come. 
After these heralds comes the first real personage of the procession, 
escorted by two attendants. His figure will not now surprise us. 

After the Satyrs came two Sileni, the one with petasos and caduceus as 
herald, the other with trumpet to make proclamation. And between them 
icalked a man great of stature, four cubits tall, in the dress and mask of a 
tragic actor and carrying the gold horn of Amaltheia. His name ivas Eniautos. 
A woman followed him, of great beauty and stature, decked out with much 
and goodly gold ; in one of her hands she held a wreath of peach-blossom, in 
the other a palm-staff, and she was called Penteteris. She was followed by 
four Horai dressed in character and each carrying her own fruits. 

The human Dionysos came later, but surely the procession is 
for the Year-Feast, et<? 'Y^viavTov. 

Eniautos held in his hands the horn of Amaltheia, the cornu- 
copia of the Year's fruits. He is his own content. Athenaeus 1 
in his discussion of the various shapes and uses of cups, makes ' 
a statement that, but for this processional figure, would be some- 
what startling. ' There is a cup,' he says, ' called The Horn of 
Amaltheia and Eniautos.' The Horae too carry each her own 
fruits. This notion that the 3'ear is its own content, or rather 
perhaps we should say that the figure of the divine Year arises 
out of the food-content, haunted the Greek imagination. Plato 2 , 
following the Herakleiteans, derives ivtavros from iv eavrw, he 
ivho has all things in himself, and the doctrine was popular 
among Orphics. Kronos was identified with Chronos, Time, 
and hence with Eniautos ; for Time, with the recurrent circling 
Seasons, has all things in Himself. 

The Seasons, the Horae, in late Roman art are four in number. 
As such they are shown in the two medallions of Commodus 3 in 
Fig. 43. In the first (a) Earth herself reclines beneath her tree. 

1 xi. 25, p. 783. 

- Kratyl. 410 D to yap ra <f>vbp.tva Kal to. yiyvbfieva wpoayov els <t>£is Kal ai/rb iv eavTu 
e^ra^ov.. ol fiev eviavrbv, otl iv eavr£ k.t.X. See Mr F. M. Cornford, Hermes, Pan, 
Logos in Classical Quarterly, in. 1909, p. 282. For the connection of Kronos and 
'Eviavrbs see W. Schulz, 'Avros in Memnon iv. 1910. The identity of Kronos with 
Chronos is as old as Pherehijdes. 

3 Cat. of Roman Medallions in British Museiun, PI. xxx. 1 (a), 2 (b). 


The Year and the Seasons 


Under her hand is the globe of heaven studded with stars. Over 
it in procession pass the four seasons. On the second medallion (b) 
the four seasons are issuing from an arch. The figure of a boy 
bearing a cornucopia comes to meet them. He is the Young Year 
bearing the year's fruits. In late art four seasons are the rule, 
but the notion of fourness had crept in as early as Alkman 1 . He, 
it would seem, had not quite made up his mind whether they were 
three or four. 

Three Seasons set he ; summer is the first, 
And winter next, and then comes autumn third, 
And fourth is spring, when the trees blossom, but 
Man may not eat his fill. 

Possibly in Alkman we have a mixture of two systems (1) two 
parts of the year: ^etficov and depos; (2) two or three Horae (Spring 

Fig. 43 a. 

Fig. 43 b. 

and Summer (and Autumn)). The two-part system may have 
belonged to the North, where winter is emphatic and important, 
the two or three Horae may have been the fruitful seasons of the 
indigenous southerners, where winter is but negative. Auxo, 
Thallo and Karpo obviously do not cover the whole year. Winter 
is no true Hora. Theognis 2 knew that 

1 Love comes at his Hour, comes with the flowers in spring.' 

1 Frg. Bergk 76 

fipas 5' to-qice rpels, Oepos 
Kai x^ ' K&Trwpav Tpirav, 
ko.1 TerpaTov rd Prjp, Sko. 
adWei, iadiev 5' adav 

OVK i:<TTlV. 

2 1275 'ilpatos Kal "Epws ewLT^Werai. See my Prolegomena, p- 634. The blend 
of the two systems in Alkman was suggested to me by Mr Cornford. 

188 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

But when we come to early works of art where tradition rules, 
we find the Horae are steadfastly three. On the archaic relief in 
Fig. 44 \ found on the Acropolis at Athens, they dance hand in 
hand to the sound of the pipe played by Hermes, and with them 
comes joyfully a smaller, human dancer. This human figure has 
been usually explained as a worshipper, perhaps the dedicator of 

Fig. 44. 

the relief ; but surely in the light of the medallion of Commodus a 
simpler and more significant explanation lies to hand. He is the 
young Eniautos, the happy New Year. 

The four Horae are sufficiently explained by the two solstices 
and the two equinoxes. We have now to consider why in earlier 
days the Horae were three. 

i From a photograph. For other interpretations see Lechat Bulletin de Con-. 
Hell 1889 xiii. pi. xiv. pp. 467-476; see also Lechat, Au Musee de I Acropole 
d'At'henes, p. 443, and G. C. Richards, J. H. S. xi. 1890, p. 28o. 

vi] Lunar and Solar Years 189 

In Athens, in the days of Porphyry, and it may be long before, 
the Horae and Helios had a procession together in which was 
carried the Eiresione, the branch decked with wool and himg with 
cakes and fruits. By that time men knew that the Sun had 
power over the Seasons ; but at first the Horae were linked with 
an earlier potency, and it is to this earlier potency that they owe 
their three-ness. The three Horae are the three phases of the 
Moon, the Moon waxing, full and waning. After the simple 
seasonal year with its two divisions came the Moon- Year with 
three, and last the Sun-Year with four Horae 1 . 

In the third jEneid, when iEneas and his men are weather- 
bound at Actium, they have as usual athletic contests to pass the 
time. Vergil 2 says 

Interea magnum sol circumvolvitur annum. 

Scholars translate the passage ' meantime the sun rounds the 
great circle of the year'; but if we take the words literally it is 
the year that is qualified as great, and we are justified in supposing 
that if there is a great year there is also a small one, a parvus 
annus. Such in fact there is, and so Servius in commenting 
understands the passage. ' He (i.e. Vergil) says magnus in addition 
lest we should think he means a lunar year. For the ancients 
computed their times by the heavenly bodies, and at first they 
called a period of 30 days a lunar year' ' Year,' annus, is of 
course only a ring, a revolution. ' Later,' Servius goes on, ' the 
year of the solstices was discovered, which contains twelve 

The great calendar crux of antiquity was the fitting together 
of this old Moon- Year with the new Sun- Year. Into this problem 
and the various solutions of trieteric and pentaeteric 'years' we 
need not enter 3 . It is enough for our purpose to realize that the 
Moon is the true mother of the triple Horae, who are themselves 
Moirae, and the Moirae, as Orpheus 4 tells us, are but the three 

1 See Abst. II. 7 oh fiaprvpeiu eoiKev Kal -q ' Ad-qvri<nv eVt ko.1 vvv Spu/iivr} tto/ittt] 
HAt'ou re /cat 'Qpwv. 

* v. 284 Servius, ad loc. Magnum, ne putemus lunarem esse, propterea dixit : 
antiqui enim tempora sideribus computabant, et dixerunt prirno lunarern annum 
triginta dierum...Postea solstitialis annus repertus est qui xir. continet menses. 

3 For further discussion of this interesting point see Mr F. M. Cornford in 
chapter vn. 

1 Clement of Alexandria in the Stromata quotes a book in which Epigenes 
noted a number of peculiarities (to. t'5taj-oi<Ta) of Orpheus, <pr)crl...Moipas re a5 /xep-q 
rrjs <Te\r)vqs Tpia.Ka.8a. /cat irevTeKaib'eK&T-qv /cat vov/x-qvlav (Abel, frg. 253). 

190 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

moirae or divisions (fiepv) of the Moon herself, the three divisions 
of the old Year. And these three Moirae or Horae are also 

Charites 1 . 

The cult of the Moon in Crete, in Minoan days, is a fact clearly 
established. On the lentoid gem 2 in Fig. 45 a worshipper ap- 
proaches a sanctuary of the usual Mycenaean type, a walled 
enclosure within which grows an olive tree. Actually within the 
sanctuary is a large crescent moon. The conjunction of moon and 
olive tree takes us back to the Pandroseion (p. 170), itself in all 

Fig. 45. 

probability a moon-shrine, with its Dew- Service, its Hersephoria. 
Minoan mythology knows of the Moon-Queen, Pasiphae, She who 
shines for all, mother of the holy, horned Bull-Child. 

With respect to the Pandroseion it may be felt that, though 
we have the Dew-Service at the full moon in the shrine of the 

1 Hymn. Magic, v. Ilpds IJeKfy-qv, 6 

fj Xapirwv rpioawv rpiaaais /u.op(pa1(ri xopei/ets, 
and cf. the triple Charites who dance round Hekate the Moon. See my Myth. 
and lion. Ancient Athens, p. 378, Figs. 15 and 16. 

2 A. Evans, Tree and Pillar Cult, 1901, p. 185, Fig. 59. This lentoid gem does 
not stand alone. The same scene, a Mycenean shrine with tree and crescent moon, 
before it a female worshipper, appears on a steatite gem found at Ligortyno in 
Crete. See Rene Dussaud, Les Civilisations prehelleniques, p. 273, Fig. 196. 


The Moon and the Olive 


All-dewy- One, we have no direct evidence of a moon-cult 1 in the 
Erechtheion, no Athenian gem with a crescent moon, shining in 
a sanctuary. This is true, but the coinage of Athens reminds us 
that the olive is clearly associated with the moon. On the reverse 
of an Athenian tetradrachm in Fig. 46 is the owl of Athena, the 
owl she once was, and in the field is not only an olive spray, but a 
crescent moon. Athena and the moon shared a name in common — 
Glaukopis*. The ancient statues of Athena's 'maidens' carry 
moon-haloes (/jLrjviatcoi) 3 . She herself on her shield carries for 
blazon the full moon 4 . 

Fig. 46. 

Yet another shrine not far from Crete, of early sanctity, with 
holy olive tree and moon-goddess, cannot in this connection be 

Give me the little hill above the sea, 
The palm of Delos fringed delicately, 
The young sweet laurel and the olive tree, 
Grey-leaved and glimmering 5 . 

Here we have a succession of holy trees brought one by one 
by successive advances in civilization, but over them watched 
always one goddess, though she had many names, Artemis, Oupis, 
Hekaerge, Loxo. Behind her humanized figure shines the old 

Oupis the Queen, fair-faced, the Light-Bearer . 

1 In the Clouds of Aristophanes (610) the Moon complains bitterly of the 
neglect into which she has fallen, deiva yap wewovdivai. 

2 Eui. frg. (Nauck997) 

7Aai//etD7r/s re <TTpi<f>erai p.T]vrj. 
In the old days the Acropolis of Athens was called the Glaukopion. E. Maass, 
Der alte Name der Akropolis in Jahrb. d. Inst. 1907, p. 143. 

a Ar. Av. 1114, and schol. ad loc., but see H. Lechat, Au Musee de VAcropole 
d'Atlunes, 1903, p. 215, Le ' Meniscos.' 

4 On a vase, see Man. d. Inst., xxn. 6 a . 

5 Eur. Iph. in T. 1098, trans. Prof. Murray. 

6 Callim. Hymn, ad Dianam, 204 

Ou7rt avacrcr' ev&m, <paeo<p6pe. 

192 The Dithyramb, Spring -Festival, etc. [ch. 

When the Delians, fearing the Persian onset, fled to Tenos, 
Datis, the Persian general, would not so much as anchor off the 
holy island, but sent a herald to bid the Delians return and fear 
nothing, for ' in the island where were born the two gods no harm 
should be done 1 .' The Persians saw in Artemis and Apollo, though 
the Greeks had in part forgotten it, the ancient divinities they 
themselves worshipped, the Moon and the Sun 2 . 

That the moon was worshipped in Crete in her triple phases 
is at least probable. Minos, Apollodorus 3 tells us, sacrificed in 
Paros to the Charites, and the Charites are in function indis- 
tinguishable from the Horae. Like the Horae they are at first 

Fig. 47. 

two, then three 4 . In Athens two Charites were worshipped 
under the names Auxo (Increaser) and Hegemone (Leader), and 
these were invoked, Pausanias says, together with the Horae of 
Athens, Thallo (Sprouting) and Karpo (Fruit), and the Dew- 
Goddess, Pandrosos. Among many primitive peoples the waxing 
and waning of the moon is supposed to bring increase and decrease 
to all living things. Only the lawless onion sprouts in the wane 
and withers in the waxing of the moon 5 . 

1 Herod, vi. 97. 2 Herod, i. 131. 3 3. 15. 7. 

4 For the whole question of the double and triple Charites at Athens and else- 
where, and for their connection with the Horae, see my Myth, and Jlon. of Ancient 
Athens, 1890, p. 382, and my Prolegomena, p. 286, The Maiden Trinities. I did not 
then see that the triple form had any relation to the Moon. 

5 Aulus Gellius, xx. 8. See Frazer, Adonis Attis Osiris-, 1907, p. 362. 

vi] The Charlies in Crete 193 

The Charites at Orchomenos 1 were unhewn stones which had 
fallen from heaven. Small wonder, if they were phases of the 
moon. On the Phoenician stelae in Fig. 4^ we see the moon 
figured as three pillars, a taller between two shorter ones, 
indicating no doubt the waxing, full and waning moon. The cult 
of the triple pillars is familiar in Crete. In Fig. 48 3 we have the 
well-known triple columns surmounted by the life-spirit, the dove. 
It is probable, though by no means certain, that we have in them 
primitive pillar-forms of the Charites. 


Fig. is. 

The Kouretes, we have noted (p. 182), according to Cretan 
tradition nourished the infant Zeus ' for the year.' The Kouretes 
bid the Kouros leap ' for the year.' Did they ever leap and dance 
for the old Moon -Year ? When we remember the Moon-cult of 
Crete, it seems probable ; we have, however, no definite evidence. 
But, when we come to the Roman brothers of the Kouretes, the 
Leapers or Salii, we can speak with certainty. It often happens 
that Roman ritual and Roman mythology, from its more con- 
servative and less imaginative character, makes clear what the 
poetry of the Greeks obscures. The Salii will help us to under- 
stand more intimately the nature of the Kouretes, and may even 
throw light on the nature and name of the Dithyramb. They must 
therefore be considered at this point in some detail. 

1 Paus. ix. 35. 1. 

2 Monimenti Ant. dei Lincei, xiv. 1905 ; Taf. xxi. 2 a and xxv. 2. 

3 A. Evans, B.S.A. vni. 1901-2, p. 29, Fig. 14. I owe the suggestion that in 
these triple pillars we may have the Cretan Charites worshipped by Minos to 
Mr Cook's kindness. 

H. 13 

194 The Dithyramb, Spring- Festival, etc. [ch. 

The Salii. 

Denys of Halicarnassos 1 in his full and interesting account of 
the Salii saw that Kouretes and Salii were substantially the 
same : ' In my opinion,' he says, ' the Salii are what in the Greek 
language are called Kouretes. We (i.e. the Greeks) give them their 
name from their age, from the word /covpoi, the Romans from their 
strenuous movements, for jumping and leaping is called by the 
Romans salire.' Denys exactly hits the mark : the term Kouretes 
expresses the essential fact common to Salii, Korybantes, etc., that 
all are youths; the various special names, the meanings of some 
of which are lost, emphasize particular functions. 

Fig. 49. 

Denys' 2 describes in detail the accoutrement of the Salii, which 
reminds us rather of priest than warrior. He notes the purple 
chitons and bronze girdles, the short cloaks and the conical caps 3 
(apices) called, he says, by the Greeks /cvpftaalai, a name with 
which very possibly the word Kurbas, a by-form of Korybas, was 
connected. One point in his description is of special interest : 

1 Ant. horn. II. 70, 71 koa. eiaiv oi ZdAtoi Kara yovv ttjv ifirju yvibp.t)V 'EWrjviKU) 
/xe6ep/j.T]ve\id€VT(S ovofxaTi Koup^res, b(f> TjfiCbv /j.ev eVt rr\% TjXut'as ovtw wvo/J-acr/xevoi irapa. 
robs Kobpovs, birb be 'Pu>/j.aiu)v ("wi rrjs gvvtovov Kivrjaeus. to yap e^dWeadai re /cat 
Trrjoav craXtpe vtt' aiirCov Xeyerai. 

2 Loc. cit. /cat ras Kakovfxeva^ a7rt'/cas ('TTiKfifj.evoi rats /ce<paXats, ttLXovs b\prj\obs ei's 
<rx^M a <Tivayo/i4voi>s Kuivotihis, as "EM^ees irpooayopevovoi. /cup/3a<rtas. 

'■' Among savages a conical cap of striking appearance is a frequent element in 
the disguise of the initiator or medicine-man. See Sehurtz, Alters klassen und 
Mannerbiinde, 1902, pp. 336, 370, 384, and L. v. Schroeder, Mimus und Mysterium, 
p. 476, and Codrington, The Melanesians, p. 78. 

vi] The Salii and the Kouretes 195 

each man, he says, is girt with a sword, and in his right hand 
wields ' a spear or a staff or something of that sort 1 ,' in his left is 
a Thracian shield. We think of the Salii as clashing their swords 
on their shields, but the Salii seen by Denys seem to have had 
some implement as to the exact nature of which Denys is uncer- 

The design in Fig. 49 from a relief found at Anagni 2 may throw 
some light on this uncertainty. The Salii are shown in long 
priestly robes with shields in their left hands. In their right is 
not, as we should expect, a spear or a sword, but an unmistakable 
drumstick. Some such implements Denys must have seen. It 
looks back to the old days when the shield was not of metal but 
of skin. Euripides 3 , speaking of Crete, sa} r s that there the triple- 
crested Korybantes found for Dionysos and his Bacchants their 
' skin-stretched orb.' In a word timbrel and shield were one and 
the same, a skin stretched on a circular or oval frame and played 
on with a drumstick ; the gear of Salii and Korybantes alike was, 
to begin with, musical as well as military. 

The helmets worn by the Salii on the relief may also be noted. 
They are not of the form we should expect as representing the 
canonical apex. They have three projections, and in this respect 
recall the ' triple-crested ' Korybants of Euripides. Possibly the 
central knob may have been originally of greater length and 
prominence and may have given its name to the apex. The shields 
carried on the Anagni relief are slightly oblong but not indented. 

1 Loc. cit. TrapefaffTdi 5' ^Kacrros avrCov £i0os Kai rrj p.ev de^iq, x el P L Xoyx 7 )" V p&§dov 
■f) ti toiovO' erepov Kparel, rrj 5' fiiuvv/jup Karix^- ire\Tijv Qpq.Kiav. 

2 Annali d. Inst, 1869, Tav. d' agg. E. Beundorf, who publishes the relief, does 
not say where it now is. That the relief should have been found at Anagni (the 
ancient Anagnia) is a fact of singular interest. Marcus Aurelius, in going through 
Anagnia on his way to his Signian villa writes thus to Fronto (Frontonis et Aurelii 
Epistulae, Naber 1867, pp. 66, 67): 

Priusquam ad villain venimus Anagniam devertimus mille fere passus a via. 
Deinde id oppidum anticum vidimus, minutulum quidem sed multas res in se 
antiquas habet, aedes sanctasque caerimonias supra modum. Nullus angulus fuit, 
ubi delubrum aut fanum aut templum non sit. Praeterea multi libri linitei, quod 
ad sacra adtinet. Deinde in porta cum eximus ibi scriptum erat bifariam sic: 
fiamen sume samentum. Kogavi aliquem ex popularibus quid ilium verbum esset? 
Ait lingua hernica pelliculam de hostia quam in apicem suum flamen cum in 
urbem introeat inponit. 

I owe this interesting reference to the kindness of Mr Spenser Farquharson. 

3 Bacch. 123 

Zvda rpiKopvdes avrpois 
fivpaoTovov kvkXw/jlo. rode 
[moi Kopi/ftavres rjvpov. 


196 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

The regular indented ' Mycenaean ' shape is well seen on an 
Etruscan gem in the Museum at Florence 1 . 

The first month of the old Roman year, March, the month of 
Mars, was given up to the activities of the Salii. We have no 
evidence that they took any part in initiation ceremonies, but it is 
worth noting that it was in the month of March (17th) at the 
Liberalia, that, according to Ovid' 2 , the Roman boy assumed the 
toga. This assumption qualified him for military service and may 
have been the last survival of a tribal initiation-ceremony. On 
the first day of the year, the birthday of Mars, it was fabled, the 
original ancile fell from heaven 3 , and through the greater part of 
the month the holy shields were kept ' moving.' Of the various 
and complex ceremonials conducted by the Salii we need only 
examine two 4 which throw light, I think, on the Palaikastro 

hymn : — 

(a) the Mamuralia (March 14). 

(b) the festival of Anna Perenna (March 15). 
Both have substantially the same content. 

(a) Ovid 5 asks 

Quis mihi nunc dicat, quare caelestia Martis 
Arroa ferant Salii, Mamuriurnque canant ? 

The question has been long ago answered by Mannhardt, 
Usener, and Dr Frazer 6 . Ovid will have it that Mamurius is 

1 See Eidgeway, Early Age of Greece, p. 455, Fig. 83. Denys states that the 
shield carried on the left arm was a Thracian pelta. Prof. Eidgeway concludes 
(op. cit. p. 465) that it was the shield of the true Thracians, the kindred of the 
Mycenaean people, and that it survived in the rites of the Kouretes. According to 
Clement (Strom, i. 16 sub init.) the pelta was invented by the Illyrians, who, if 
Prof. Eidgeway is right, belong to the primitive Aegean stock. A curious double 
ancile appears on a denarius of P. Licinius Stolo, figured by Mr W. Warde Fowler, 
Roman Festivals, p. 350. On the same coin the apex is very clearly shown. 

2 Ovid, Fasti, in. 771 

Eestat ut inveniam quare toga libera detur 
Lucifero pueris, candide Bacche, tuo. 
We should like of course to have definite evidence that rites of tribal initiation 
were practised among the Greeks and Eomans in the spring, but such evidence 
is not forthcoming. As regards the Mithraic mysteries we are better informed. 
F. Cumont, Monuments figures relatifs aux mysteres de Mithras, i. p. 336, writes : 
'Les initiations avaient lieu de preference vers le debut du printemps en mars 
et en avril.' 

s Ovid, Fasti, in. 259—273. 

4 The sources for both festivals are fully given in Eoscher's Lexicon, s.v. Mars, 
and in Mr Warde Fowler's Roman Festivals, pp. 44 — 54. 

5 Fasti, in. 259. 

6 Mannhardt, Baumkultus, 266, 297 ; Usener, Italische My then in Ehein. Mus. 
1875, p. 1*3 ; Frazer, Golden Bough' 2 , vol. in. pp. 122 ff. 

vi] Mamurius and Anna Perenna 197 

commemorated because he was the skilful smith who made the 
eleven counterfeit ancilia, but Lydus 1 lets out the truth. On 
March 14, the day before the first full moon of the new year, a man 
dressed in goat-skins was led in procession through the streets of 
Rome, beaten with long white rods, and driven out of the city. 
His name was, Lydus says, Mamurius, and Mamurius we know 
was also called Veturius 2 . He is the old Year, the Old Mars, the 
Death, Winter, driven out before the incoming of the New Mars, 
the spring 3 . 

(b) Not less transparent as a year-god is Anna Perenna, ' year-in 
year-out.' The details of her festival have no special significance. 
Ovid 4 describes it as a rude drinking bout of the plebs ; men and 
women revelled together, some in the open Campus Martius, others 
in rough huts made of stakes and branches ; they sang and danced 
and prayed for as many years of life as they could drink cups of 
wine. It was just an ordinary New Year's festival. Lydus 5 gives 
us the gist of it, though he does not mention Anna Perenna. On 
the Ides of March he says there were public prayers that the 
coming year might be healthy. The name Anna Perenna speaks 
for itself. Obviously Anna is the year, presumably the New Year. 
Perenna 6 , Peranna is the year just passed through, the Old Year — 
perannare is 'to live the year through.' Anna Perenna was not two 
divinities, but as it were a Janus with two faces, one looking back, 
one forward, Prorsa, Postverta. This comes out very clearly in a 
story told by Ovid 7 , a story that may reflect a bit of rustic ritual. 
Mars is about to marry ; the wedding-day is come, he seeks his 
bride. Instead he finds old Anna (Anna Perenna) who has veiled 
her face and counterfeits the bride 8 . The young Year-god will wed 

1 De Mens. iv. 49 Tjyero Si ko.1 dvdpuiros Trepi^e^X^fiivos Sopats, kcli tovtov Zwaiov 
pdj38ois XewTals eTTifxriKecn ^iap-ovptov avrbv KaXovi'TfS. 

2 The reduplicated form Marmar occurs in the Carmen Arvale and from it 
Mamurius is probably formed, see Wald, Lat. Etym. Worterbuch, s.v. For Veturius 
as the old year cf. Gk. /?tos. 

3 Koscher, Lexicon, s.v. Mars, pp. 23 — 99. 

4 Fasti, in. 523 ff. 

5 De Mens. iv. 49 Kal evxal Srj/nocnai inrkp tov vyteivbv yeviadai rbv eviavr6i>. 

6 Varro, Sat. Menipp. p. 506 te Anna ac Peranna, and Macrob. i. 12. 6 
publice et privatim ad Annam Perennam sacrificatum itur ut annare et perannare 
commode liceat. 

7 Fasti, in. 695. Ovid recounts the story as aetiological, 

Inde ioci veteres obscenaque dicta canuntur. 

8 For the whole subject of May Brides and the False Bride see Miss G. M. 
Godden, Folk-Lore, iv. 1893, pp. 142 ff. 

198 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

the young Year-goddess, Anna ; the old Year-goddess he cannot 

and will not wed. Anna Perenna is the feminine equivalent of 

Mamurius Veturius. 

Ovid 1 piles up conjectures as to who and what Anna was. Out 

of his rubbish heap we may pick up one priceless jewel. 

Sunt quibus haec Luna est, quia mensibus impleat annum : 
Pars Themin, Inachiam pars putat esse boveni. 

Luna, Themis (order), and the Inachian cow are of course all 
one and the same, the Moon as the Measurer and as the Horned 
Wanderer through the sky. Man measures time, we have seen, 

Fig. 50. 

first by recurrent days and nights, then by recurrent Moons, then 
by the circle of the Sun's year and its seasons ; finally he tries to 
adjust his Sun Year to twelve Moon-months 2 . The original ancile 
or moon-shield fell from heaven into the palace of Numa; that 
was the one sacred month in the spring in which so many ancient 
festivals were concentrated. When the solar year came in, eleven 
Moon-shields are made by the smith Mamurius to counterfeit the 

1 Ovid, Fasti, m. 657. 

2 The development among primitive peoples from weather gods (e.g. thunder) to 
moon and sun gods, a sequence which appears to be regular, is well explained by 
E. J. Payne, History of the New World called America, vol. i. pp. 491 ff., and see 
infra, chapter ix. 

vi] Mars as Year-God 199 

one actual Moon-month. Broadly speaking, Anna, though she 
cannot be said to be the Moon, stands for the Moon- Year, Mamurius 
for the Sun- Year, and Anna is the earlier figure of the two. 

This idea of Anna and Mamurius as Moon-Year and Sun- Year 
throws light on a curious Etruscan monument that has hitherto 
baffled explanation. In Fig. 50 we have a portion of the design 
from a Praenestine cista 1 now in the Berlin Museum. Menerva 
holds a young boy over a vessel full of flaming fire ; she seems to 
be anointing his lips. The boy is armed with spear and shield, 
and his name is inscribed Mars: the scene is one of triumph, for 
over Menerva floats a small winged Victory holding a taenia. The 
scene is one of great solemnity and significance, for on the 
rest of the design, not figured here, we have an influential assembly 
of gods, Juno, Jovos, Mercuris, Hercle, Apolo, Leiber. 

Mars is, of course, the new fighting -season which opens in 
spring, as well as the new agricultural season. But if Mars were 
only the War-God, what sense is there in this baptism of fire ? 
For the young Sun what could be more significant ? At the 
Sun-festivals of the solstice- to-day, to feed the sun and kindle 
him anew and speed his going, the Johannisfeuer is lighted year 
by year and the blazing wheel rolled down the hill. 

The band of honeysuckle ornament that runs round the cista 
is oddly broken : just at the point above the young Sun-god's head 
is the figure of the triple Cerberus. A strange apparition ; but he 
ceases to be irrelevant when we remember that Hecate the Moon, 
to whom dogs were offered 3 at the crossways, was once a three- 
headed dog herself. 

From the Salii we have learnt that the function of the armed 
dancers of Rome was to drive out the Old Year, the Old Mars, 
and bring in the New. Mars as a Year-God, like the Greek Ares, 
and indeed like almost every other male God, took on aspects 
of the Sun, Anna Perenna of the Moon. Can we trace in the 
Kouretes any like function ? 

1 Mon. delV Inst. ix. Tav. 58. See Marx, Ein neuer Arcs Mythus, A.Z. xliii. 
1885, p. 169. 

2 H. Gaidoz, Le Dieu Gaulois du Soleil et le Symbolisme de la Roue, Rev. Arch. 
1884, 32 ff . 

3 Maurice Blomfield, Cerberus the Dog of Hades, 1905. Cerberus, cabalas, the 
heavenly dog of the Veda, was later translated to Hades. Cf. the fate of Ixion. For 
Hekate as dog cf. Porph. de Abstin. in. 17 77 5' 'Ekoltt] ravpos, kvwv, Xtaiva. 

200 The Dithyramb, Spring- Festival, etc. [ch. 

The design in Fig. 51 1 is from a red-figured krater in the 
Louvre : Helios is rising from the sea. By an odd conjunction he 
has, to bear him on his way, both boat and quadriga. His horses 
are guided by Pan holding a quadruple torch. To the right hand 
stands a dancing Korybant or Koures, with shield and uplifted 
sword. In the chariot with Helios, stands the horned Selene : 
clearly the vase-painter recognised that one function of the 
Koures was to clash his shield at the rising of the Sun, and, it 
would seem, at the marriage of the Sun and Moon. 

The Moon was married to the Sun 2 and in patriarchal fashion 
sank into wifely subjection. As soon as it was understood that 

Fig. 51. 

the Sun was the source of the Seasons, the Food-bringers, and 
that increase came from his light and heat, not from the waxing 
and waning of the Moon, he rose to complete and permanent 
supremacy. In the vase-painting 3 in Fig. 52 we see the Sun 
figured as greatest Kouros ; the laurel spray reminds us that 
Helios is Apollo in the making. His uprising is greeted by a 
dance of Satyrs, those daimones of fertility who were, as Strabo 4 
reminds us, own brothers to the Kouretes. 

1 Annali d. Inst. 1852, PI. F. 3. Nonnus also makes the Korybantes dance at 
Knossos at dawn, Dionysiaha, 361 

tj5t) 5' <?K\ayev opvis icbios ijtpa. rep.vwv, 
/ecu (rrix^s einrTjXijues eprjixovb^uiv KopvftdvTuv 
KvucrcTiov (KpovcravTO aaKiairaKov a\ixa. x°P elr l^ 
ixvevi fierpwTOLcnv. 

2 The marriage of Sun and Moon and its religious content in relation to the 
Eniautos will be discussed in the next chapter, p. 227. 

3 E. Gerhard Ueber die LichUjottheiten avf Kunstdenkmalem 1840. The vase, 
a krater, is now T in the Louvre Museum. 

4 Supra, p. 25. 


Helios, Kouretes and Satyrs 


The custom of greeting the rising sun with dances and the 
clash of instruments is world-wide. Lucian 1 says that the Indians, 
when they rise at dawn, worship Helios, and he adds that they do 
not, like the Greeks, account their devotion complete when they 
have kissed their hands, but they stand facing the east and 
greet Helios by dancing, assuming certain attitudes in silence 
and imitating the dance of the god. The intent is obviously 
magical ; man dances to reinforce his own emotion and activity ; 
so does the sun ; and man's dance has power to reinforce the 
strength of the rising sun. In Germany, Scandinavia, and England 
the belief is still current that on Easter Morning the sun dances 
and leaps three times for joy 2 . The Dawn with the Greeks had 
her dancing places 3 . In the light of such representations it is not 

Fig. 52. 

surprising that the Korybantes should be called the children of 
Helios 4 , and we understand why Julian 5 says 'Great Helios who is 
enthroned with the Mother is Korybas,' and again, ' the Mother of 
the gods allowed this minion of hers to leap about, that he might 
resemble the sunbeams.' Rites often die down into children's 

1 De Salt. 17 ...dXV eKeivoi irpbs rr\v avaroK^v ffTavres opxv '* 1 - T0V HXtOJ' 
affTrafrovTat. axVP- aT i-i 0VT ^ eavrovs (tlwtttj ko.1 /xifxovfj.evoi rr\v x°P ilav T °v 9eov. 

2 See L. v. Schroeder, Mimus und Mysterium, p. 45, and Usener, Pasparios in 
Bhein. Mus. 1894, p. 464. 

3 Od. xii. 4 

6'#t r HoOs ripiyeveirjs 
olida Kal x°P°L iL<TL KaL o.uro\ai 'HeXLoio. 

4 Strabo, 202 ...u>s eiev Kopvliavres Sainoves rives' Adrivas nai'HXiov iraiSes. 

5 Or. v. 167 Kopvftas 6 /j-iyas tjXios 6 avvdpovos rrj M^rpi, and 168. 

202 The Dithyramb, Spring -Festival, etc. [ch. 

games, and Pollux 1 tells us that there was a game called ' Shine 
out, Sun/ in which children made a din when a cloud covered the 

With the Salii in our minds leaping in March, the first month 
of the New Year, with the Kouretes clashing their shields and 
dancing over the child they had reared to be a Kouros for the 
Year-Feast (et<? evtavrov), we come back to a clearer understanding 
of the Dithyramb ; we may even hazard a conjecture as to the 
etymology of the word. But first, one point remains to be 
established. The Dithyramb, like the Hymn of the Kouretes, 
is not only a song of human rebirth, it is the song of the 
rebirth of all nature, all living things 2 ; it is a Spring Song 
' for the Year-Feast 3 .' 

This is definitely stated in the dithyrambic Paean 4 to Dionysos 

1 IX. 123 'H be ^£ex' £ 0'^' T/^' e t<*'5«£, npbrov fyd rQv iraiSiuv aiiv rep e7U/3or)- 
y.a.ri TovTif), brbrav ve<pos eiribpdfXT} rbv debv bdev ical ZTpdrrts ev Qoiviaaats, 
eW 77X105 ixev Treiderou rots waibiois, 
orav \4yuat.v, ££ex'> <*> 0'^' V^ L€ - 
- It is curious how this notion, that on the resurrection or Epiphany of a god 
depends the fertility of the year, lasts on in the mind of the peasant to-day. 
Mr Lawson in his interesting book on Modern Greek Folklore (p. 573) tells us that 
a stranger, happening to be in a village in Euboea during Holy Week, noticed the 
general depression of the villagers. On Easter Eve he asked an old woman why she 
was so gloomy, and she at once answered, 'Of course I am anxious, for if Christ 
does not rise to-morrow, we shall have no corn this year.' Her words come to us 
with a shock as of profanity, but a worshipper of the fieyivTos Kovpos would have 
felt them to be deeply, integrally religious. 

:j It is worth noting that even now to the farmer a good year means a good 
harvest; Time's content is set for a period of time, with which may be compared 
the popular use of the German Jahr. Either spring or autumn as season of fruits 
often stands for the whole year ; thus in the Lex Bajuvariorum dates are reckoned by 
autumni. Our word 'year' is etymologically the same as the Greek Copa the spring. 
Much interesting material on this question is collected by Schrader Reallexicon s.v. 
' Jahr und Jahreszeiten.' 

4 H. Weil, Bull, de Corr. Hell. xrx. p. 401. Dr Weil reads 
[Aevp' dva At0]('/pa/U/3e, Bd*cx\ 

e[yle dvparflpes , Bpai- 
rd, Bpbpu.(e), i)pLva\j.s lkov 
Tcu<rb(e) iepals ev tlipais. 
Eivol w ib [BaKx w ie Haiajv 

[6]v 07?/3ats ttot ev evLais 
Zv[vl 76^07-0] Ka\\t7rcus Qvwva. 

irdvres 5' [iaripes dyx]bpev- 
aav vdvTes be pporoi x[ a PV~ 
aav ecus] Bd/c%te yevvais. 
In my Prolegomena pp. 417 and 439 I followed Dr Weil, but Dr Vollgraff 
(Mnemosyne, 905, p. 379) has shown that in the second line BPAITA has been 
misread for XAITA ; he proposes to restore e[i>ie, Taupe Ki<r<ro]xa-L-, but as the reading 
is problematical — though I should welcome ' Taupe'— I leave the 3rd line un- 

vi] Dithyramb and Spring-Song 203 

recently discovered at Delphi. Like the Hymn of the Kouretes it 
is an Invocation Hymn. It opens thus: 

Come, Dithyrambos, Bacchos, come 


Bromios come, and coming with thee bring 

Holy hours of thine own holy spring. 

Evo'e, Bacchus hail. Paean hail, 

Whom, in sacred Thebes, the Mother fair 

She, Thyone, once to Zeus did bear. 

All the stars danced for joy. Mirth 

Of mortals hailed thee, Bacchos, at thy birth. 

The new-born god is Dithyrambos, born at the resurrection of 
earth in the springtime. 

The Delphic Paean is later in sentiment than the Hymn of 
the Kouretes. We have the old matriarchal divine pair, the 
Mother and the Child, but Thyone the mother is married to Zeus. 
Next and most beautiful of the Spring Dithyrambs left us is 
Pindar's fragment, written to be sung at Athens, in the agora in 
or near to the most ancient sanctuary of Dionysos-in-the-Marshes 
and like the Delphic Paean it celebrates, as though they were 
one and the same, the coming of spring, the birth of the child 

Look upon the dance, Olympians, send us the grace of Victory, ye gods, 
who come to the heart of our city where many feet are treading and incense 
steams : in sacred Athens come to the Market-place, by every art enriched 
and of blessed name. Take your portion of garlands pansy-twined, libations 
poured from the culling of spring, and look upon me as, starting from Zeus, 
I set forth upon my song with rejoicing. 

Come hither to the god with ivy bound ; Bromios we mortals name Him 
and Him of the mighty Voice. I come to dance and sing, the child of a father 
most high and a woman of Cadmus' race. The clear signs of his Fulfilment 
are not hidden, whensoever the chamber of the purple-robed Hours is opened 
and nectarous flowers lead in the fragrant Spring. Then, then, are flung over 
the immortal Earth lovely petals of pansies, and roses are amid our hair ; and 
voices of song are loud among the pipes, the dancing-floors are loud with the 
calling of crowned Semele 1 . 

To resume : the Dithyramb, we have seen, is a Birth-Song, a 
Spco/mevov giving rise to the divine figures of Mother, Full-grown 
Son and Child ; it is a spring-song of magical fertility for the 
new year; it is a group-song, a kvkXlos x°P 0<; > later sung by a 
thiasos, a song of those who leap and dance rhythmically 

1 Pindar, Dithyramb 75. The 'calling of crowned Semele' will be further dis- 
cussed in chapter ix. 

204 The Dithyramb, Spring- Festival, etc. [ch. 

The word Dithyramb now speaks for itself. The first syllable 
At for Au is from the root that gives us Zeu9 and Ato<?. The 
termination a/x/3o<i is probably the same as that in l'a/i/3o<?, 
o-?;'pa/x/3o?. We are left with the syllable 6vp, which has always 
been the crux. But the difficulty disappears if we remember 
that, as Hoffmann has pointed out, the northern peoples of Greece 
tend, under certain conditions, to substitute v for 6, which gives 
us for Ai-6vp-a/j,fto<; Ai-8op-afj,/3o<; — Zeus-leap-song, the song 
that makes Zeus leap or beget 1 . Our Hymn of the Kouretes 
is the Di-thor-amb' 2 . 

We seem to have left the Bull far behind, for the Delphic 
Paean and Pindar's Dithyramb and even our Hymn of the 
Kouretes know nothing of the bull-sacrifice ; they tell only of the 
human child, not the theriomorph. Only on the sarcophagos do 
we get the bull-sacrifice and the Spring hpw^evov together. But 
Pindar knew that the Dithyramb was the song of the Bull as well 
as of the Child and the Spring. In the xinth Olympian 3 he is 
chanting the praises of Corinth, home of the Dithyramb, Corinth, 
the home of splendid youths (dyXaoicovpov), Corinth, where dwelt 
as in ancient Crete, the Horae, Eunomia and Dike and Eirene, 
givers of Wealth, golden daughters of Themis. These golden 
Horae had brought to Corinth from of old subtleties of invention ; 
for ' whence,' asks Pindar, in words that are all but untranslat- 

'Whence did appear the Charites of Dionysos 
With the Bull-driving Dithyramb?' 

1 I owe this brilliant suggestion to Mr A. B. Cook and publish it by bis kind 
permission. Previous attempted derivations will be found in Pauly-Wissowa, s. v. 
Dithyramb. To these may be added the recent Studies in Greek Noun- Formation 
by E. H. Sturtevant in Classical Philology, Chicago, 1910, v. p. 329. For the 
interchange of v and o see Hoffmann. Die Makedonen, p, 242. 

- Mr Cook also kindly draws my attention to a gloss of Hesychius which presents a 
very instructive parallel : AetiraTvpos ' 9eos irapa [2]ri'^0aiots. This important note 
preserves the name of ' Zeus the Father ' as used in the district of Mt Stymphe, not 
far from Dodona on the frontier of Epirus, Macedonia and Thessaly. It furnishes 
a precise parallel both for the compound Al and for the weakening of o into v, in 
short for both the disputable elements in Aidvpa/xfios. Moreover — a still more 
interesting point — the meaning as well as the form is parallel : Zeus the Father, 
Zeus the begetter, cf. .Esch. Eum. 663 tlkto. 5' 6 OpipcrKwv. As initiated Kouros the 
young god has come to maturity of his functions. 

3 V. 16 TroWa 5' iv Kapdiais avSpQv %8a\ov 

*{lpai Tro\vdv0(fjLOi ap- 

X<ri& cro<pi(r/AaTa ' iraj> 5' evpovros Zpyov. 
rat Stuvvcrov irbdtv (i;e<pa.vei> 
avv ^orfKarq. HLdpires Oidvp&ixfiw ; 


The Bull-driving Dithyramb 


Why is the Dithyramb Bull-driving ? Why does the Bull- 
driving Dithyramb come with the Charites ? 

Pindar no doubt was thinking of the new Graces of tragedy ; 
but behind them come the figures of the older Charites, the 
Givers of all Increase, the Horae who bring back the god in the 
Spring, be he Bull or human Kouros. In our oldest Dithyramb 
they bring him as a Bull. 

In his xxxvith Greek Question Plutarch asks, ' Why do the 
women of Elis summon Dionysos in their hymns to be present 
with them with his bull-foot?' Happily Plutarch preserves for us 
the very words of the little early ritual hymn — 

In Springtime, Dionysos, 
To thy holy temple come, 
To Elis with thy Graces, 
Kushing with thy hull-foot, come, 
Noble Bull, Noble Bull 1 . 

Fig. 53. 

Plutarch 2 tries as usual to answer his own question and at 
last half succeeds. ' Is it,' he suggests, ' that some entitle the god 

as born of a bull and as a bull himself, or is it that many hold 

that the god is the beginner of sowing and ploughing?' We have 
seen how at Magnesia the holy Bull was the beginner (dpxvyo<i) 
of ploughing and sowing. 

1 'EXfleFe r]p w Aibvvae 

'AXeiuv es vabv 

ayvbv o~bv xaph-ecrerij', 

es vabv t£ /3oe'y rrodl dvuv. 

"Afie Taupe, d^ie Taupe. 
I adopt in the first line Mr A. B. Cook's simple and convincing emendation 
■rjp J for r/'pco. The vocative rjpw does not exist. Schneidewin emends ypus. 
Bergk (ed. 4) keeps rjpco, observing 'non ausus sum ijpws substituere.' For elision of 
the dative see Monro, Homeric Grammar, ed. 2, §§ 376. 

2 op. cit. note 1 wbrepov on Kal fiovyevrj irpoaayopeuovo'i /cat raupov k'vi.ot. rbv debv ; 
...7) on Kal apbrpov Kal airbpov iroXKol rbv debv apxyybv yeyovivai vop-ifovcri. 

200 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch. 

On a cameo in the Hermitage at St Petersburg in Fig. 53 1 
we see the 'noble Bull' rushing 'with his bull-foot' and he is 
coming 'with the Charites': they are perched, a group of three, 
oddly enough between his horns. Above the holy Bull are the 
Pleiades 2 ; their rising twenty-seven days after the vernal equinox 
was the signal in Greece for the early harvest. The women 
of Elis 'summon' the Bull, sing to him, praise him; but after all 
if you want a Bull to come to his holy temple, it is no use 
standing and 'summoning' him, you must drive him, drive him 
with a 'Bull-driving Dithyramb.' 

From the leaders of the Dithyramb Aristotle has told us arose 
tragedy, the Goat-Song. Yet the Dithyramb is a song of Bull- 
driving. The difficulty is not so great as it seems. Any young 
full-grown creature can be the animal form of the Kouros, can be 
sacrificed, sanctified, divinized, and become the Agathos Daimon, 
the 'vegetation spirit,' the luck of the year. All over Europe we J 
find, as Dr Frazer 3 has abundantly shown, goats, pigs, horses, 
even cats can play the part. Best of all perhaps is a bear, because 
he is strongest; this the Athenian maidens remembered in. their 
Bear-Service (dp/creta). But bears, alas ! retreat before advancing 
civilization. Almost equally good is a bull, if you can afford him. 
But in Attica, as Alciphron has told us (p. 173), a bull was tool 
expensive. A goat is not a bad life-spirit, as anyone will quickly 
discover who tries to turn him back against his will. Crete, the ; 
coast-land of Asia Minor, and Thrace, as we know from their coins, 
were bull-lands with abundant pastures. Attica, stony Attica, 
is a goat-land. If you go to Athens to-day, your morning coffee 
is ruined because, even in the capital, it is hard to get a drop of •' 
cow's milk. Instead you have, as an abundant and delicious food, 
sour goat's milk, <ytaovpTi. 

On the archaic patera in Fig. 54 4 in the British Museum 5 we 

1 Baumeister, Denkmaler, Fig. 413, p. 377. 

2 For the Pleiades and their importance in the farmer's year cf . Hesiod 615 and 
619. See A. W. Mail's Hesiod, Poems and Fragments, 1908, Addenda, p. 136. Prof. 
Mair quotes the scholiast on the Phaenomena of Aratos, 264 ff., who says the Pleiades 
rise with the sun at dawn when he is in Taurus, which with the Romans is in April. 
The bull on the gem may have some reference to the constellation Taurus. 

3 The Golden Bough-, n. 261 — 269. For the Bear-Service see my Myth, and 
Hon. of Ancient Athens, p. 410. 

4 Myth, and Moil, of Ancient Athens, p. 289, Fig. 30. 
s Cat. B, 80, published bv C. H. Smith, J.H.S. i. PI. 7, p. 202. See also Class. 

Her. i. (1887), p. 315. 


Dithyramb and Tracjoeclia 


see depicted two scenes : one to the left the sacrifice of an ox, a 
Bouphonia, the other to the right a festival that centres round 
a goat, which perhaps we may venture to associate with a tragoedia. 
Some of the figures round the goat hold wreaths, and it may be 
that the splendid animal in the midst of them is the tragic prize. 
Behind the goat-scene, and evidently part of it, is a primitive 
mule-car. This recalls Thespis and his cart, and the canonical 
jests ' from the cart.' The scene to the left is in honour of 
Athena. She and her great snake and her holy bird await the 

Fig. 54. 

sacrificial procession. A flute-player leads the Bull-driving Dithy- 
ramb. The Bull is led or rather driven by a cord attached to one of 
his hind legs ; the other men hold wreaths, a staff, and an oinochoe. 
On another and much later red-figured vase, in the Naples 
Museum 1 , reproduced in Fig. 55 2 , we have another scene of 
goat- sacrifice. This time the god Dionysos himself is present. 
His stiff xoanon stands close to the altar and table at which 

1 Heyderuann, Cat. 2411. 

- Man. delV Inst. vi. 37. See also Farnell, Cults of the Greek States, v. p. 256. 

208 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [ch, 

the offerings are to be made. A priestess is about to slay a very 
lively looking goat. About are dancing Maenads with their 
timbrels. But though a goat is sacrificed, the old bull-service is 
not forgotten. The altar is decorated with a boukranion, the holy 
filleted head of a bull. 

. To resume. In Crete we have the worship of the Mother and 
the Child, the Kouros ; without the Child the worship of the 
Mother is not ; we have also the theriornorph, the holy Bull, the 
' horns of consecration ' ; we cease to wonder that the Cretan 

Fig. 55. 

palace is full of bulls and horns, we cease to wonder at the story 
of Pasiphae and the Minotaur. In Asia Minor, in Phrygia, the 
same conjunction, the Mother and the Child and the Bull ; in 
Thrace, in Macedon, in Delphi, in Thracianized Thebes again 
the same. It was this religion of the Mother and the holy Bull- 
Child and the spring Spcofievov that came down afresh, resurging 
from Macedon to startle and enthrall civilized, Olympianized, 
patriarchalized, intellectualized Athens, that Athens which, cen- 
turies before, under the sea-supremacy of Minos, had had her 
legend of the Cretan Bull, her Cretan ritual of the Bouphonia. 

Matriarchy died out; Athena was 'all for the father'; hence 
the scandal caused by the Bacchants. But the Bull and the 
spring Spco/xevov went on, to be the seed of the drama. 

vi] The Kouros and the Dionysia 209 

The most ancient Dionysia at Athens were, Thucydides 1 tells 
us, in the month Anthesterion, the month of the rising of the 
dead and the blossoming of flowers. At the Anthesteria were 
dramatic contests known as Pot Contests' 2 , but we know of no 
Dithyramb, and no Bull-sacrifice. On the eve of the great Dionysiac 
festival, the Epheboi of Athens, the Kouroi, brought the image of 
Dionysos by torch-light into the theatre. They brought him by 
night — for was he not vvKre\io<i, vvktlttoX.o'; ? They brought their 
Greatest Kouros ia human shape, an image such as we have seen 
on the vase, but, in the same procession, they brought their 
god, their Kouros, in animal shape — a splendid bull. Surely 
as they went they sang their Bull-driving Dithyramb. 

It was expressly ordained, an inscription 3 testifies to it, that 
this bull should be ' worthy of the god.' Worthy of the god 
forsooth ! Why, he was the god. 

a£ie ravpe, a£ie ravpe. 

It will not have escaped the reader's attention that one, and 
perhaps the most important, portion of the scene on the sarcophagos 
has been left undescribed. To the extreme right (Fig. 31, p. 161) is 
a small building variously interpreted as tomb or sanctuary ; it is 
richly decorated. In front of it stands the closely draped figure 
of a youth, by his side a tree, and in front of him a stepped altar. 
To him approach three youths bearing offerings. The foremost 
brings a moon-shaped boat, the two last bring, not the blood of the 
dead bull, but young bull-calves, leaping and prancing; the some- 
what irrelevant pose of the calves reminds us of the bull on the 
fresco of Tiryns. All three youths wear strange beast-skin robes 4 

1 II. 15 /cat rb iv Ai/xvais Aiovvtxov (to ra apxaibrepa Aiouijaia rrj SwSe/cdr?? iroi&Tai. 
ev fxrjvl ' kvdt(TTTipi.G>vi). For the whole question of the various Dionysia see my 
Primitive Athens, p. 85. The significance of the Anthesteria in relation to the 
Dithyramb and the drama will be further discussed in chapter vni. 

2 Schol. ad Ar. Ran. 218 jjyovro aywves avrbdi oi x vT P LV °l KO-XodfievoL. See 
Primitive Athens, p. 87, note 6. 

3 'E0i7^. 4098, 1. 11 elcr-qyayov 5e /cat rbv Aidwcrov airo rrjs €(rx^P as e ' s T ?> OfCLTpOp 
fiera </>wtos ko.1 ZwefxxJ/av rots Aiovvuiois ravpov a£iov rov 9eov, 8v /ecu Zdvaav iv ti2 iep<£ rrj 

4 Signor Paribeni has shown (op. cit.) that these celebrants, male and female, 
wearing beast robes, are 'girded with sackclotb.' Our word 'sackcloth' is the 
Hebrew pt^ ? Assyrian sakku, Coptic sok, which gave the Greeks their <tolkkos. It 
means simply rough, hairy beast-skin. In the familiar Bible passages, it will be 
noted that when sackcloth is worn it is not a complete dress, it is an extended 

H. 14 

210 The Dithyramb, Spring-Festival, etc. [oh. 

like that of the woman celebrant, but their procession seems to 
have nothing to do with hers, for they are turned back to back. 
T,™ .nte'rpretationsof thescene havebeen offered. Dr Petersen', 

whose theory as to the meaning I have, in the mam, followed, 
holds that the building to the right is a sanctuary, the hgure n 
front of it a god, Dionysos, closely draped because phallic. 
Dionysos is here as god of fertility, worshipped m spnng ; the 
tree beside him marks one of his aspects, as Devdrvtes. A more 
widely current interpretation, offered by the first publisher 
I Ih" sarcophagos, Sig. Paribe,u=, is that the buddmg ■« a 
tomb the figure in front a dead man, a hero. The boat and 
des are offerings to the dead man, the boat in Egyptmu fashron 
Provided for his journey, the young bulls to h.s hfe and 

We are now brought face to face with an all-important 
questron, Is the spring 8pJ^ on the sarcophagos conceive Us 
celebrated in honour of, in relation to, a god or a mortal Jhouysos 
or a dead hero? Further, since, as we have seen, drama and 
i:^L are closely connected, this question « .straight on to 
another problem, 'Does Greek drama from the worship of 
Dionysos'or, as has been recently maintained, from the worship of 
the dead?' This question is not a mere curiosity of hteiary 
history, still less is its importance to be measured by the 
heat of a passing controversy. The answer lies I behevj 
d ™ down m the very nature of religion, and in that pecuha 
quality of the Greek" mmd on which the «» 
their religion from that of other peoples depended. Th 
solution 1 only he attempted after a very «™W-*j 
of the meaning of the terms employed and especially th. 

term hero. 

loin .c,ot h , g irt on a, in ^ T^-ZZ^Z^Z^^l 

xxx. 12: 

•Thou hast turned my heaviness into ]oy : ladne8S .> 

Thou hast put off my sackcloth, ana giraea me & 

i Jahrb. d. Arch. Inst. 1909, p. 162. 
2 Supra, p. 158, note 1. 

vi] The Olympic Games 211 

But, before that analysis is attempted, we have to consider 
another series of Spwfieva, which present interesting analogies to 
the 8pct)/j,eva of the Dithyramb. Like these they are magical and 
recurrent, having for their object to influence and induce a good 
year. Like them, they became closely intertwined with the 
worship of heroes. We mean the contests (dytoves) celebrated 
widely and periodically in Greece, and first and foremost those 
contests which set the clock for Hellas — the great Olympic 



By F. M. Cornford. 

More than one theory has recently been put forward by 
English scholars, to account for the origin of the Olympic Games. 
It has been felt that the naive view 1 which sees in these athletic 
contests no more than the survival of an expedient, comparable 
to the whisky-drinking at an Irish wake, for cheering up the 
mourners after the funeral of a chieftain, clearly leaves something 
to be desired; for it entails the rejection of the whole ancient 
tradition recorded by Pindar, Pausanias, and others. Some part 
of this tradition is, indeed, undoubtedly fictitious — the deliberate 
invention of incoming peoples who wished to derive their claims 
from a spurious antiquity. Nothing is easier than to detect these 
genealogical forgeries ; but when we have put them aside, there 
remains much that is of a totally different character — the myths, 
for instance, used by Pindar in his first Olympian. This residuum 
calls for some explanation ; and no theory which dismisses it 
bodily as so much motiveless 'poetic fiction' can be accepted as 

The first hypothesis that claims serious consideration is the 
current view, lately defended by Professor Ridge way 2 . Games 
were held, he says, in honour of heroes, beside the tomb, ' in order 
doubtless to please the spirit of the dead man within.' 'Athletic 
feats, contests of horsemanship, and tragic dances are all part of 
the same principle — the honouring and appeasing of the dead.' 

1 Stated, e.g., by Christ (Pindari Carmina, 1896, p. Ixii ff.) : ludos instituebant 
ad animos recreandos atque post luctum exhilarandos... Aliam opportunitatem ludos 
faciendi faustus eventus belli obtulit. Namque et hominum animi libenter post 
atroces belli casus laboresque reficiebantur, etc. 

2 Origin of 'Tragedy, pp. 30, 38. 

ch. vn] The Funeral Theory 213 

It will be noted that this hypothesis marks an advance upon 
what we call the naive view, in that it recognises the religious 
character of the games. Athletic feats were performed, not solely 
to cheer the spirits of the performers, but as an act of worship, to 
* honour and appease ' the spirit of a hero. The theory holds that 
the performance originates in funeral games at the barrow of 
a dead chief — in the case of Olympia, at the Pelopium — and is 
perpetuated because dead warriors like to be remembered by their 
survivors and can visit neglect with unpleasant consequences. 
Hence it is prudent to honour and appease them. 

Dr Frazer 1 brings forward evidence in support of this theory 
of the funeral origin. It consists chiefly 2 of instances of games 
celebrated at funerals or founded in historic times, either in 
Greece or elsewhere, to do honour to famous men, such as 
Miltiades, Brasidas, Timoleon, who were worshipped as heroes 
with annual sacrifices and games. Dr Frazer concludes that ' we 
cannot dismiss as improbable the tradition that the Olympic 
Games and perhaps other great Greek games were instituted to 
commemorate real men who once lived, died, and were buried on 
the spot where the festivals were afterwards held.' 

The objection to this apparently simple theory is stated by 
Dr Frazer himself, and he feels its force so strongly that he 
propounds another hypothesis of his own, which, as we shall later 
see (p. 259), is actually inconsistent with the funeral origin. He 
remarks that the funeral theory does not explain all the legends 
connected with the origin of the Olympic Games. We might 
almost go so far as to sa}^ that it does not explain any of the more 
ancient legends. The earliest, indeed the only, authority cited by 
Dr Frazer for the statement that the games were founded 'in 
honour of Pelops ' is Clement of Alexandria 3 . Our older author- 
ities, Pindar, for instance, and the sources used by Pausanias, tell 
a quite different story. About the death and obsequies of Pelops, 

1 Part in. of the Golden Bough, ed. 3, p. 92 ff. 

2 The lashing of all the youths in the Peloponnese on the grave of Pelops till 
the blood streamed down as a libation to the departed hero, to which Dr Frazer 
adduces parallels from savage mourning customs, may perhaps be dismissed as an 
unfortunate attempt of the Scholiast on Pindar 01. i. 146 to derive aifiaKovpiai. from 
alfia. Kovpwv. 

3 Protrept. n. 34, p. 29, ed. Potter. It should be noted that Clement is 
advocating a theory of his own, that Games held for the dead, like oracles, were 

214 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

which ought to be the centre and core of the Olympian tradition, 
that tradition is absolutely silent. Pindar 1 dates the Games from 
the victory of Pelops over Oinomaos in the chariot-race, which 
ended in the death of Oinomaos, not of Pelops. The Elean in- 
formants of Pausanias' 2 had no tradition of any funeral games in 
honour of that hero ; they traced the origin of the festival to a 
higher antiquity, and said that ' Pelops celebrated the Games in 
honour of Olympian Zeus in a grander way than all who had gone 
before him.' 

It is true that Pausanias says, 'the Eleans honour Pelops as 
much above all the heroes of Olympia as they honour Zeus above 
the rest of the gods'; and that a black ram was annually sacrificed 
at his precinct 3 . Pausanias calls the enclosure a 'precinct' (Ve/ie- 
vos), not a grave 4 . The German excavators have dug down to the 
neolithic stratum, and no trace of any real interment, except a 
neolithic baby, has been found 5 . Thus, although the mound in this 
precinct was, as early as Pindar's time, regarded as the barrow of 
Pelops, there is no material evidence that any real chieftain was 
ever buried there at all. The case of Pelops at Olympia is, more- 
over, exceptionally favourable to the funeral theory. The 'dead ' 
who were connected with the festivals at the other three centres of 
panhellenic games 6 were not chieftains whose warlike deeds could 
be commemorated. At Nemea the 'dead' who was honoured was 
Archemoros, an infant; at the Isthmus, Glaukos, a sea-daemon; 
at Pytho, a snake. 

Further, whereas the games were held once in every four 
years, the hero-sacrifices at the supposed tomb of Pelops were 
annual, and we have no reason to believe that they were even held 
at the same time of year. 

It thus appears that the funeral theory, which would have the 
whole Olympic festival originate in the obsequies of an actual 
man called Pelops, is contradicted by the more ancient traditions 
of Elis and unsupported by any monumental evidence. The field 
is clear for an alternative theory which will take account of the 
fact that the Games were believed to be older than the time of 

1 01. i. 2 Paus. v. 8. 2. 

3 Paus. v. 13. 1. 

4 Cf. Schol. ad Pind. 0/. i. 149, rw&t <paoi uri fj.vTJfj.a dXX' lepbv rod WfKoiros. 

8 Dorpfeld, Olympia in priihistorischer Zeit, Mitth. Ath. xxxiii. (1908) p. 185 ff. 
6 The four Great Games — Olympian, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian, seem to 
be distinguished from others more than once in Pindar by the epithet iepol. 

vn] Relation to Hero-worship 215 

Pelops, who was associated with a reconstitution of them on a 
grander scale, and will also interpret, instead of rejecting, the 
legends about their origin. 

The point of general and fundamental interest involved in this 
controversy is the significance of hero-worship and its place in the 
development of Greek religion — a question which, as has been 
remarked already (p. 210), is vital also for the history of the 
drama. For the drama and for the games alike the modern 
Euhemerist like Professor Ridge way supposes a funeral origin. 
In other words, wherever we find hero-worship or ceremonies more 
or less connected with the commemoration of ' heroes,' we are to 
suppose that they originated in memorial rites dating from the 
actual obsequies of some man or men who died and were buried 
(or at least had a cenotaph) on the spot. This view has led 
Professor Ridgeway to take up an extreme position with regard to 
the whole order of religious development. 

'A great principle,' he says 1 , 'is involved in this discussion, since the 
evidence shows that whereas it is commonly held that the phenomena of 
vegetation spirits and totemism are primary, they are rather to be regarded 
as secondary phenomena arising from the great primary principle of the 
belief in the existence of the soul after death, and the desirability of 
honouring it. 

1 Scholars had begun at the wrong end, taking as primary the phenomena 
of vegetation spirits, totemism etc., which really were but secondary, arising 
almost wholly from the primary element, the belief in the existence of the 
soul after the death of the body. As prayer, religion proper, was made to the 
dead, religion must be considered antecedent to magic, which is especially 
connected with the secondary elements 2 .' 

Of the extreme view stated in the last sentence the whole of 
this book may be taken as a refutation. Prof. Ridgeway's view 
was instantly challenged by Dr Frazer 3 , who ' contended that 
totemism, the worship of the dead, and the phenomena of vegeta- 
tion spirits should be considered as independent factors, and that 
none of the three should be held to be the origin of the others.' 
With this denial that ' religion proper,' identified with prayers 
to the dead, is prior to magic — the immediate manipulation of 
mana — our whole argument is, of course, in agreement. Where 

1 Summary of a paper on The Origin of the Great Games of Greece, delivered 
before the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, May 9, 1911. 

2 Report of the same paper in the Athenaewn, May 20, 1911. 

3 Athenaeum, loc. cit. 


216 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

we go beyond Dr Frazer's pronouncement is in attempting to 
show how the three factors he calls ' independent ' are related to 
one another. 

What is now clear is that behind the theory of the funeral 
origin of the Games and of the drama, as advocated by Professor 
Ridgeway, lies the view that the primary religious phenomenon is 
prayer, or other rites, addressed to one or more individuals, whether 
dead men or gods, with the purpose of ' honouring and appeasing ' 
them, and thereby securing the benefits, especially the food-supply, 
which they can give or withold. The do ut des principle is taken 
as primary and ultimate. Further, since dead men are most 
suitably appeased by commemoration of their exploits, the 
primitive rite is essentially commemorative, only secondarily 
designed to secure tangible benefits. 

Against this general view of religious development it has 
already been argued (p. 13 4) that the do ut des principle is not 
early, but late ; and that magic — the magic which immediately 
controls the food-supply and the natural phenomena on which it 
depends — was carried on before there were any gods at all, and 
can be carried on by direct mimetic methods, without any prayerful 
appeals to dead ancestors. The special topic of hero-worship and 
the detailed analysis of the term ' hero ' are reserved for the next 
chapter. Our object here is to state a theory of the origin of the 
Great Games which will not rest on the foundations, in our 
opinion false, which support Professor Ridge way's funeral hypo- 

According to the view which we shall put forward, the Games 
are to be regarded as originally and essentially a New Year's 
festival — the inauguration of a ' Year.' If it can be shown that 
the legends can be interpreted as reflecting rites appropriate 
to such a festival, the hypothesis will have some claim to 

Our simplest course will be to examine the myths about the 
origin of the Games, contained in Pindar's first Olympian, and to 
disentangle the separable factors in this complex legend. We 
shall begin with the story of the so-called chariot-race, in which 
Pelops defeated the wicked king Oinomaos, and won the hand 
of his daughter Hippodameia and with it the succession to the 

vn] Ritual Myths iri Pelops legend 217 

kingdom. We shall then examine the dark and disreputable story 
(as it seemed to Pindar) of the Feast of Tantalus and offer an 
explanation which will connect it with the institution of the 
Games in their earliest form. 

Our enquiry will proceed on the assumption that these myths 
are not saga-episodes, but belong to the class of ritual myths. In 
other words, they are not poeticised versions of unique historical 
events in the life of any individual ' hero ' ; but reflect recurrent 
ritual practices, or Spdyfieva 1 . The failure to distinguish these two 
classes of myths leads the Euhemerist into his worst errors ; and in 
this particular case it puts the advocate of the funeral theory 
into a serious difficulty. For on that theory these stories must 
represent those exploits of the dead chieftain, of which his 
ghost will most like to be reminded ; and it is difficult to under- 
stand what satisfaction the departed Pelops could find in having 
his attention periodically drawn to the fact that his father had 
been damned in Hell for cooking him and trying to make the gods 
eat him at dinner. If, on the other hand, we recognise that all 
these myths are of the ritual type, it must be observed that 
' Pelops ' is stripped of every vestige of historic personality. He 
becomes an empty name, an eponym. The only semblance of 
historic fact that remains about him is the statement that he came 
from Lydia to his own island, the Peloponnese ; and, as Gruppe 2 
shows, it is probable that this is the reverse of the truth, and that 
his legend was first carried to Asia Minor at a comparatively late 
date by settlers from central Greece. The funeral theory is thus 
reduced to deriving the most important of Hellenic festivals from 
the unrecorded obsequies of a person of whom nothing whatever 
is known, and who, in all probability, never existed. • 

But it is time to put controversy aside and reconstruct the 
meaning of Pindar's myths. 

1 For the relation of myth to ritual see infra, p. 327. 

2 Griech. Myth, und Rel. i. 653. Gruppe holds that the ancestors of the 
Atreidae, Tantalus and Pelops, were transplanted to Lydia with the rest of the 
Ionian Saga early in the sixth century, especially in the reigns of Alyattes and 

218 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

The Contest with Oinomaos. 

Pindar 1 thus describes the contest : 

When, towards the fair flowering of his growing age, the down began 
to shade his darkening cheek, Pelops turned his thoughts to a marriage that 
lay ready for him — to win from her father of Pisa famed Hippodameia. 

He came near to the hoary sea, alone in the darkness, and cried aloud to 
the Lord of the Trident in the low-thundering waves. And he appeared to 
him, close at his foot. And Pelops spoke to him : Come now, Poseidon, if 
the kindly gifts of the Cyprian in any wise find favour with thee, do thou 
trammel the bronze spear of Oinomaos, speed me on swiftest chariot to Elis, 
and bring victory to my embrace. For thirteen men that sued for her he hath 
overthrown, in putting off the marriage of his daughter.... 

So he said, and he attained his prayer, which went not unfulfilled. The 
God glorified him with the gift of a golden car and horses with wings 
unwearied. And he overcame mighty Oinomaos, and won the maiden to 
share his bed ; and she bore him six sons, chieftains eager in prowess. 

Thus indirectly and allusively Pindar tells the story which 
forms the subject of the Eastern pediment of the temple of Zeus 
at Olympia. Probably most readers of the First Olympian think 
of the contest between Pelops and Oinomaos as a chariot-race — 
the mythical prototype of the chariot-races of the historic Games. 

Fig. 56. 

So too it may have been regarded by Pindar. But if we examine 
the story as known to us from other sources, it becomes plain that 
this was not its original meaning. 

The scene is represented in the design (Fig. 56) on a polychrome 
bell-shaped krater in the Naples Museum 2 . In the right fore- 
ground Pelops and the bride Hippodameia are driving off in the 
same chariot ; for it was Oinomaos' custom to make the suitors 

1 01. i. 69 ff. 

2 Arch. Zeit. 1853, Taf. lv. 

vn] Contest with Oinomaos 219 

drive with her from Elis to the altar of Poseidon at the Corinthian 
Isthmus 1 . Meanwhile the king himself, who is armed with spear 
and helmet, stays behind to sacrifice, before a column surmounted 
by a female divinity 2 , the ram which an attendant is bringing up 
on the left. Then Oinomaos will mount the chariot held in 
readiness by his charioteer Myrtilus, and drive in pursuit of the 
flying pair. On overtaking them, he intends to stab Pelops in 
the back with his bronze spear. He has already disposed of 
thirteen suitors in this questionable way. But Pelops will escape ; 
for Hippodameia has persuaded Myrtilus to remove the linchpins 
of the king's chariot. Oinomaos will be tumbled out and killed 
by Pelops with his own spear. His grave — a mound of earth 
enclosed by a retaining wall of stones — was shown on the far side 
of the Kladeos. Above it stood the remains of buildings where 
he was said to have stabled his mares 3 . 

It is obvious that this story does not describe a primitive form 
of mere sport. It is made up of at least two distinct factors. 
(a) There is, first, the contest between the young and the old 
king, ending in the death of the elder and the succession of the 
younger to the kingdom. (6) Second, there is the cariying off 
(apTrayrj) of the bride ; for Pelops and Hippodameia drive off 
in the same chariot, with the chance of altogether escaping the 
pursuing father. This is not a chariot-race, but a flight, such as 
often occurs in marriage by capture 4 . 

These two factors must be briefly examined. We shall see 
that both can be interpreted on the hypothesis that the rites 
reflected in these myths are appropriate to a New Year's festival. 

(a) The Contest between the Young and the Old King. This 
feature of the story is taken by Mr A. B. Cook 5 as the basis of his 
theory of the origin of the Great Games. The parallel story of 

1 Weizsacker in Roscher's Lex., s.v. Oinomaos, col. 768, holds that this trait 
must belong to a Phliasian legend of Oinomaos, and that Oinomaos was transferred 
from Phlius to Olympia. 

2 The sacrifice is said to have been made to Zeus Areios (Paus. v. 14. 6) or 
to Ares (Philostr. Imag. 10). Earlier vases show Oinomaos and Pelops taking 
the oath before a pillar, in one case inscribed AI02, in another surmounted by 
a male divinity. See A. B. Cook, Class. Rev. xvn. p. 271. 

3 Apollod. ii. 4 ; Paus. v. 17. 7 ; Diod. iv. 73 ; Paus. vi. 21. 3. 

4 See Weizsacker in Roscher's Lex., s.v. Oinomaos. 

5 Zens, Jupiter, and the Oak, Class. Rev. xvn. 268 ff. , and The European Sky- 
God, Folk-Lore 1904. To the learning and ingenuity displayed in these articles, 
as well as to other help from Mr Cook, I am deeply indebted. 

220 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

Phorbas, king of the Phlegyae, shows that Ave are justified in 
regarding the contest for the kingship as a separable factor; for 
in that story we have the contest alone, without either the 
chariot-driving or the flight with the bride. Phorbas dwelt 
under an oak, called his ' palace,' on the road to Delphi, and 
challenged the pilgrims to various athletic feats. When he had 
defeated them, he cut off their heads and hung them on his oak. 
Apollo came as a boxer and overthrew Phorbas, while his oak was 
blasted by a thunderbolt from the sky. 

The sacred tree and the thunderbolt reappear in the case of 
Oinomaos. Between the Great Altar and the sanctuary of Zeus 
in the Altis stood a wooden pillar or post, decayed by time and 
held together by metal bands. It was further protected by a roof 
supported on four columns. This pillar, it was said, alone escaped 
when the house of Oinomaos was blasted by lightning 1 . Near it 
stood an altar of Zeus Keraunios, said to have been erected when 
Zeus smote the house 2 . The place was, in fact, sanctified by being 
struck by lightning. Oinomaos, whom legend made both husband 
and son of Sterope, the lightning-flash, was one of those weather- 
kings with whom we are already familiar (p. 1U5), who claimed to 
control the thunder and the rain, and like Salmoneus who, as we 
have seen (p. 81), migrated from Thessaly to Elis, were liable to 
be blasted by the later thunder-god of Olympus. Oinomaos with 
his bronze spear was iy^etKepawo^. He too, like Phorbas, hung 
up the heads of the defeated suitors on his house. Again we 
encounter the same complex as we found in the Erechtheion (pp. 
92 and 171) — a sacred tree or pillar, and the token of the thunderer. 
The Pandroseion of the Athenian Acropolis has its analogue in 
the Pantheion — the all-holy or all-magical place — which contained 
the sacred olive tree at Olympia 4 . 

On the basis of this conjunction of weather king and sacred 
tree, Mr Cook suggests that ' in mythical times the Olympic 
contest was a means of determining who should be king of the 
district and champion of the local tree-Zeus.' The holder of the 
office for the time being was analogous to the Rex Nemorensis 
of the Golden Bough — an incarnation of the Tree and Sky God, 

1 Paus. v. 20. 6. - Pans. v. 14. 6. 

:i An epithet applied by Pindar to Zeus (Pyth. iv. 194; 01. xin. 77). Athena is 
tyxeiPpo/j-os, 01. vn. 43. 
4 Supra, p. 171, note 1. 


The Victor as King 


and, like his Italian parallel, defended his office against all comers, 
until he was finally defeated and superseded by the successful 

The Olympic victor, he points out, was treated with honours 
both regal and divine ; feasted in the prytaneum ; crowned with 
a spray of olive like the wreath of Zeus himself; pelted, like 
a tree-spirit or Jack-in-the-Green, with leaves 1 . As such he is 
represented in the vase-painting in Fig. 57 2 . 

Finally, on his return to his native city, the victor was dressed 
in royal purple and drawn by white horses through a breach in 
the walls. In many cases he was worshipped after death, as a 
hero ; not because he was a successful athlete, but because he had 
once been an incarnate god. 

Fig. 57. 

This hypothesis of Mr Cook's we believe to be fundamentally 
correct. Plutarch in his Symposiac Questions 3 , after remarking 
that the foot-race was the sole original contest at Olympia, all the 
other competitions having been added later, proceeds : 

1 Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 15, says that Pythagoras advised men to compete, but 
not to win, at Olympia, avpfiaivei yap ko.1 &\\ws mtj5' eua7e(s elvai tovs piku>vto.s ko.1 
<pv\\o^o\ov/j.ivovs. Why had the (pv\\o(3o\la this effect ? 

2 A kylix from Vulci now in the Bibl. Nat. Paris; Arch. Zeit. 1853, Taf. hi., 
liii. ; figured and discussed by Mr Cook, C.R. xvn. p. 274. 

3 v. 2, p. 675 c toIs 6' '0\v[nrlot,s Travra irpo<yQ-r\K7\ ttXtjv tov 5p6/j.ov yiyov€...8ioia 
5' elireiv on wdXat Kai fxovofxaxio.s dyicu irtpi Yliaav fiyero ^XP l <P OVOV Ka ^ ff(payrjs w 

7]TTU}/J.€VU}V KO.1 VirOTWrTdvTUV. 

222 The Origin of the Olympic Games [en. 

I hesitate to mention that in ancient times there was also held at Pisa a 
contest consisting of a single combat, which ended only with the slaughter and 
death of the vanquished. 

Plutarch rightly feels that this was not a form of athletic sport. 
This single combat is again reflected in myth as a wrestling match 
between Zeus and Kronos for the kingdom, from which some dated 
the institution of the games 1 . 

But although we accept the essence of Mr Cook's theory of 
this single combat, we prefer to avoid some of the terms in which 
he describes its significance) The words ' king,' ' god,' ' incarnation 
of the tree-Zeus' may all be somewhat misleading 2 . In the light 
of the preceding chapters, we see that a weather-magician like 
Oinomaos, though a late theology may see in him the temporary 
incarnation of a god, goes back to a time when there was no god 
to be incarnated : on the contrary- the sky god is only a projected 
reflex of this human figure of the magician, who claims to com- 
mand the powers of the sky and to call down its rain and thunder 
by virtue of his own mana. We shall be on safer ground if we 
restrict ourselves to the simple primitive group, consisting of the 
weather-magician who wields the fertilising influences of Heaven, 
and the tree which embodies the powers of the Earth — the 
vegetation which springs up when the thunder shower has burst, 
and Heaven and Earth are married in the life-giving rain 3 . 

To this we must add the conception, with which Dr Frazer 
has made us familiar 4 , of the limited period of office enjoyed by 
such a personage. The individual on whose vigour and excep- 
tional powers the fertility of earth depends, cannot be allowed to 
continue in office when his natural forces fall into decay. Hence 
the single combat, in which he has to make good his right to 
a renewed period or else to die at the hands of his more vigorous 

Now, in some cases at least, this period of office was not 
limited merely by the duration of its holders' natural strength : 

1 Paus. v. 7 Ai'a 5rj oi p.(v evravda ira\ou<rai Kai avrtf tu> Kp6v(p Trepi rrjs apxys, oi 
de em KaTeipyao~p.e f i>ois dyoovoderrjaai <po.o~w avrbv. 

- See supra, p. 149. Mr Cook kindly tells me that in his forthcoming Zeus he 
has restated his view in terms not open to the above objections. 

3 See supra, p. 176. 

4 Lectures on the Early History of the Kingship, p. 264. See also for the 
periodicity of the rule of Minos (t 179 iwiupos fiaaiXeve) Prof. Murray, Rise of 
the Greek Epic-, 127 note. 

vn] The King as Year- God 223 

it bore some fixed relation to the year, and to the seasonal cycle 
of vegetable life in nature. In other words the term of office was 
a 'year' — a term which, as we have seen (p. 189), may denote 
a lunar or solar year or a longer period of two, four, or eight solar 
years — a trieteris, penteteris, or ennaeteris. During this period, 
long or short as it might be, the tenant of the office represented, 
or rather was, the power which governed the rains of heaven and 
the fruits of earth ; at the end of it he was either continued for 
a new eniautos, or violently dispossessed by a successor. Further, 
since the eniautos itself could be concretely conceived as a daimon 
carrying the horn of plenty 1 — the contents and fruits of the 'year' 
in the more abstract sense — we may think of the temporary ' king ' 
as actually being the eniautos-daimon or fertility spirit of his 
'year.' When the year is fixed by the solar period, we get 
festivals of the type of the Roman Saturnalia or the Greek 
Kpovia (with which the Saturnalia were regularly equated in 
ancient times), and the single combat appears as the driving 
out of winter or of the dying year by the vigorous young spirit 
of the New Year that is to come. It is as eniautos-daimon, not 
at first as ' incarnate god ' or as king in the later political sense, 
that the representative of the fertility powers of nature dies at 
the hands of the New Year. In this combat we may see, in a 
word, the essential feature of a Saturnalian or Kronian festival. 

This view is supported by a curious feature, to which Mr Cook 
calls attention, in the vase-painting of Salmoneus figured above on 
p. 80. Salmoneus, the weather-king, arrayed, as we have seen, 
with the attributes of the Olympic victor, wears on his left ankle 
an unmistakable fetter. We may suspect, as Mr Cook remarks, 
that this is part of his disguise as a would-be god, and it shows 
that the god imitated is not Zeus, but the fettered Kronos, Kpov o? 
7re8?;T7??. Once a year, at the Saturnalia, the statue of Saturn 
slipped the woollen fetter with which it was bound throughout 
the rest of the year 2 . 

Hesiod 3 tells us that, after Kronos had vomited forth the 
stone which he swallowed instead of his son, Zeus entering on his 

1 See supra, p. 18fi, and infra, p. 285. 

- Macrob. Sat. 1. vin. 5, Saturnum Apollodorus alligari ait per annum laneo 
vinculo et solvi ad diem sibi festum, id est mense hoc Decembri. For the fettered 
Kronos see Roscher, Lex., s.v. Krotios, col. 1467. 

3 Theofj. 501. The lines are regarded by some editors as interpolated. For the 
release of Kronos see Hesiod, Erga, 169 b (ed. Ez. 1902). 

224 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

reign, released from their bonds the brothers of Kronos, the Titans, 
who then gave Zeus the thunder and lightning. The unfettering 
of Kronos or Saturn appears to be a reflection of the custom 
at Saturnalian festivals of releasing prisoners and slaves — the 
mock subjects of the mock king of the feast, himself a prisoner 
or a slave. It may have symbolised a brief return of the older 
reign of Kronos, or the Golden Age, lasting over the intercalary 
days between two years of the reign of Zeus. At any rate in this 
design are united the attributes of the old Thunderer and 
Vegetation Spirit, of the Olympic victor, and of the unfettered 
Kronos — a combination which strongly confirms our suggestion 
that the Games were connected with a Saturnalian feast. 

Against the view here suggested an objection might be urged 
on the score of the date of the Olympic Festival. Saturnalian 
feasts fall usually in the neighbourhood of Christmas (the winter 
solstice) or of Easter (the vernal equinox) or at some season of 
carnival between these two dates. The Olympic Games, on the 
other hand, were held in the late summer. The earliest date 
on which they could fall was August 6 ; the latest, September 29. 
Moreover they were not annual, but penteteric ; that is to say 
they were celebrated once in every four years. How then can 
they be connected with Saturnalian rites ? 

The answer to this objection will throw light on the second 
factor in the myth of Pelops and Oinomaos — the capture of the 
bride, Hippodameia. 

(b) The Marriage of Pelops and Hippodameia. The date at 
which a celebration of the Games fell due was reckoned by 
a singularly complicated process, comparable with the mysterious 
method laid down by the Christian churches for the calculation 
of Easter; for, like Easter, the Games were a moveable feast, 
determined by astronomical considerations. The Scholiast on 
Pindar 1 quotes from Comarchos what appears to be the official 
prescription for fixing the dates, copied possibly from some inscrip- 
tion in the Prytaneum at Olympia. 

1 Ad 01. in. 33 restored as follows by Weniger, Das Hochfest ties Zeus in 
Olympia, Klio, 1905, p. Iff.: Kuiyuapxos 6 to. irepi 'HXeioov (rvvrd^as <pr)olv ourws" 
TTpwrov p.ev ovv macros irepiobov <rvvedr]Ke TrevTerriplda' apx*iv (note the official jussive 

vn] Date of Olympic Festival 225 

The Games were held alternately in the Elean months 
Apollonios and Parthenios — probably the second and third months 
of the Elean year, if we may suppose that this, like the Delphic 
and Attic years, began about midsummer. The interval between 
two celebrations was alternately 49 and 50 months. This fact 
shows that the festival cycle is really an octennial period (ennae- 
teris) divided into two halves — a period which reconciles the 
Hellenic moon year of 354 days with the solar year of 365^ 1 . Ac- 
cording to the document preserved by Comarchos, the reckoning 
is made in a peculiar way, which seems to call for explanation. It 
starts from the winter solstice. Take the first full moon after the 
solstice — this will fall on January (Thosuthias) 13 2 — and count 
8 months. This will give the full moon (Aug. 22, 776 = Ol. i.) of 
Apollonios (Aug. 8 — Sept. 5) as the central day for the first 
celebration. The next will fall four years later, after fifty months, 
at the full moon (Sept. 6, 772 = Ol. ii.) of the month Parthenios 
(Aug. 23 — Sept. 21). Forty-nine months later we shall be again at 
the full moon of Apollonios (Aug. 23, 768 = Ol. hi.), and so the 
cycle recurs. 

The singular plan of starting the whole reckoning from the 
winter solstice seems to indicate that the year at Elis, as at Delos 
and in Boeotia and probably also at Delphi and Athens, formerly 
began in winter ; and this circumstance at once suggests that the 
single combat of the young and old eniautos-daimons may have 
originally belonged to the season of midwinter — the season at 
which the Roman Saturnalia were ultimately fixed 3 . 

infinitive) vovtxy)viav p.-qvbs 8s Quavdtds (?) ep y H\t5t wo/xdfeTai, irepl 8v rpoiral i)\iov 
yivovrai x eL t J - e P lva -' 1 ' Ka ' L Tp&Ta. '(JXvfjnrta dyerai t) /xrjvi' evds deovros 8ia<f>ep6vT03v ttJ 
upq., to. /xei> dpxop.tvr)S rrjs OTTiopas, to. 8e inr' avrbv top apnrovpov. on oe Kara Trevrerr]- 
pL8a dyerai 6 dywv, ko.1 avrbs 6 IILvSapos /iaprvpei. Schol. ad Ol. v. 35 yiverai 8e 6 
dyiov Trork fxev did p.d' fj.rjvwi', irore 5i did v' , odev Kal rrori p.ev t<2 'AttoWwIui ni)vl, 
irori 8k tQ Ilapdeviifi eTriTeXelrai. The account in the text is based on Weniger's 
admirable analysis in the above-mentioned article. 

1 The 11^ days by which the lunar falls short of the solar year amount in 
8 years to 90 days, which were distributed over the period in 3 months intercalated 
in winter. The 8-year period thus = 96 + 3 months = 99 = 49 + 50. 

a The dates given exempli gratia are those for tbe first Olympiad, starting from 
Deer. 25, 777. See Weniger, loc. cit. 

:J This may also throw light on an unexplained obscurity in Pindar, who, 
describing the institution of the Games by Herakles, says (Ol. x. 49) that Herakles 
first gave its name to the Hill of Kronos, 'which before was nameless, while 
Oinomaos ruled, and was wetted with much snoiv' — vpocrde ydp vtbuvuvos, as Oivofiaos 
a-pxc, ppexero iroWa vi<pd8i. What can this possibly mean, if not that a tradition 
survived connecting the hill with some mid-winter festival? It suggests that 
the defeat of 'Oinomaos' and the termination of his 'rule' coincided with the 
introduction of the new octennial eniautos and the shift to August. 

H. 15 

226 The Origin of the Olyminc Games [ch. 

A cycle such as this is obviously a late and very artificial 
invention, implying fairly exact astronomical knowledge. It is 
independent of the seasons and concerned solely with the motions of 
the sun and moon. There is no reason why it should begin at the 
same season as the pastoral or the agricultural year. The most 
propitious moment would be the summer, as near as can con- 
veniently be managed 1 to the summer solstice, when the sun is at 
the height of his power. The moon too is taken at the full. The 
union of the full moon and the full-grown Sun is one form — the 
astronomical — of that sacred marriage which in many parts of the 
ancient world was celebrated at midsummer. This union, we 
suggest, is symbolised by the marriage of Pelops and Hippodameia. 
The suggestion has the support of Dr Frazer's high authority. 
He gives reason for holding that 'under the names of Zeus and 
Hera the pair of Olympic victors ' (that is, the victor in the chariot- 
race and the girl who won the virgin's race at the Heraea, which 
we shall discuss later) ' would seem to have really personated the 
sun and moon, who were the true heavenly bridegroom and bride 
of the ancient octennial festival 2 .' 

Thus the second factor under consideration — the marriage of 
Pelops and Hippodameia — is explained. It was symbolised, as we 
saw, by the flight of bride and bridegroom in the same chariot. 
As such it appears in the design (Fig. 58) of a red-figured 
amphora 3 with twisted handles. Hippodameia stands erect, 

1 Some mention will be made later (p. 230) of the difficulties which seem to 
have forced the founders of the cycle to choose just this part of the summer. The 
month Apollonios corresponded with the Delphic Bukatios (Pythian Games) and 
the Laconian Karneios (festival of the Karneia). It was clearly convenient to fix 
these greater festivals at a time when the labours of harvest were well over and 
agricultural work was at a standstill. Earlier writers, for instance Boeckh and 
Ideler, believed that the Games were held at the first full moon after the summer 

- See Part in. of the Golden Bough, ed. 3, p. 91. Dr Frazer arrived at this 
conclusion some years ago, and, after hearing that I had reached it also, kindly 
allowed me to see the proofs from which the above sentence is quoted. I believe 
the explanation was first suggested to me by one of Mr A. B. Cook's articles on 
The European Sky-God in Folk-Lore xv. p. 377 ff. 

3 Now in the Museo Pubblico at Arezzo. First published in the Monimenti 
(via. 3) of the German Archaeological Institute. I am glad to find that Prof. 
Furtwangler in commenting on this vase has pointed out that the scene here and 
on the other Oinomaos vases is a rape rather than a race. He writes (Griechische 
Vasenmalerei, Serie n. Taf. 67, Text p. 34) 'Dass die Fahrten der Freier der Hippo- 
dameia und damit die des Pelops urspriinglich nicht als Wettrennen sondern als 
EntfiihruDg, als Brautraub gemeint und Oinomaos der Verfolger war, dies ist in 
den verschiedenen Sagenvarianten, und in den Kunstdenkmalern immer deutlich 
geblieben.' Prof. Furtwangler makes the interesting suggestion that this vase is 
from the hand of the same master as the famous Talos vase in Ruvo. 


Marriage of Sun and Moon 


looking much more like a goddess than a ravished bride. The 
olive trees and the two doves flying close together to perch on one 
of them seem to take us back to the trees and birds of the 
marriage of Sky and Earth on the Hagia Triada sarcophagos 1 . 

The chariot of Pelops is the four-horsed chariot of the sun, 
which Erichthonios the mythical founder of the Panathenaea also 
imitated 2 . That the Sun and Moon should drive in the same 
chariot may seem strange, since of course they never rise together 
in the same quarter of the sky. But we have already seen them 


Fig. 58. 

so represented on the Louvre krater (Fig. 51) 3 ; and the same 
conjunction appears in literature. At the marriage of Kapaneus, 
Helios and Selene drove their chariot together over the sky 4 . At 
the two ends of the pedestal of the great statue of Zeus at 

1 Supra, p. 176. 

2 Verg. Gi'org. in. 113 Primus Erichthonius currus et quatuor ausus | iungere 
equos. Eratosth. catast. 13 rrj rod 'HXtou avripufjiop iwoi-qaaTO 5«f>peiav. Hyg. Astr. 
ii. 13 Heniockus, Erichthonium... quern Jupiter, cum vidisset primum inter 
homines equos quadrigis iunxisse, admiratus est ingenium hominis ad Solis inventa 
accessisse, quod is princeps quadrigis inter deos est usus. Others identified the 
celestial Charioteer with Myrtilus, Hyg. ibid. 

3 Compare also the coin of Gellia, figured in Roscher, Lex., s.v. Mars, col. 2110, 
which shows Mars as a warrior and Nerine — the Roman Sun or Year God with his 
bride — standing in a quadriga. 

4 Eur. Suppl. 990 ri (piyyos, riv' aXy\av 

eduppeuerov "AXios 
~e\dva re Kar 1 aidepa 
f\ap.Trd5' iV uKvOoai vv^4>aif... 
My attention was drawn to this passage by Prof. Murray. 


228 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

Olympia, the sun drove in his chariot and the moon rode her 
horse : she is Hippodameia, the horse-rider 1 . 

The chariot-drive of Pelops and Hippodameia, itself a flight 
rather than a race, was however connected by tradition with the 
historic chariot-races at Olympia. We have evidence too that the 
chariot-races of the Roman circus were associated with the courses 
of the heavenly bodies. 

Cassiodorus 2 , a sixth century writer, tells us that the Roman 
Circus represented the change of seasons, and the courses of the 
Sun and Moon. The two-horse chariot-race represented the 
course of the moon, the four-horse chariot-race that of the sun. 

Lydus 3 mentions that the Circus Maximus at Rome contained 
altars of the planet gods. Below the pyramid of the Sun stood 
altars of the Moon, Mercury and Venus ; above it, altars of Saturn, 
Jupiter, and Mars. Tertullian 4 says that the whole circus was 
dedicated to the Sun. 

So, at Olympia itself, the twelve rounds of the chariot-race 
— SaySeKdyvafiTrTos as Pindar 5 calls it — may well have represented 
the course of the Sun through the twelve signs. In the hippo- 
drome the pillar which marked the starting-point had beside it an 
altar of the Heavenly Twins". At the starting-point of the foot- 
races in the Stadium stood the tomb of Endymion, the sinking 
Sun who married Selene the Moon 7 . The most cautious scholars 
accept Boeckh's view that the fifty daughters of this marriage are 
the fifty moon months of the Olympiad. 

We have thus disentangled two elements in the complex story 
of Pelops and Oinomaos, as told by Pindar. The marriage of the 
sun and moon must clearly be coeval with the reconstitution of the 
Games ' on a grander scale ' associated with ' Pelops ' ; and pre- 
sumably this reconstitution meant the reform of the calendar by 

1 Paus. v. 11. 8. Stone images of the Sun with rays and the Moon with horns 
stood in the market-place of Elis, Paus. vi. 24. 6. 

2 Var. Ep. iii. 51 Biga quasi lunae, quadriga solis imitatione reperta est... 
Obeliscorum quoque prolixitates ad caeli altitudinem sublevantur; sed potior soli, 
inferior lunae dicatus est. 

3 De mensibus 1, pp. 4 and 12. 

4 De sped. 8 Circus Soli principaliter consecratur, cuius aedes in medio spatio 
et effigies de fastigio aedis emicat...quadrigas Soli, bigas Lunae sanxerunt. See 
Roscher, Lex., s.v. Mondgottin, col. 3182. 

5 01. n. 50. 

6 Pind. 01. in. 36. Paus. v. 15. " Paus. vi. 20. 9. 

vn] The Heraea 229 

the introduction of the octennial period which is symbolised by 
this particular form of the sacred marriage. The case of the 
Panathenaea, deliberately modelled on the Olympic Festival, is 
precisely similar. The Great Panathenaea of Peisistratos were 
penteteric; but they were only an enlargement of the ancient 
Lesser Panathenaea, founded by Erichthonios, which were annual. 
In the same way at Olympia itself, as we shall see (p. 231), the 
Heraea were probably at first annual, and later came to be 
celebrated with especial grandeur and additional rites in every 
fourth year. We may be fairly sure that the Olympic Games 
themselves had similarly been at first an annual feast ; and there 
is no reason to suppose that this annual feast was held in the late 
summer, since that date is due solely to the conjunction of sun 
and moon. 

Before we pass on to the Elean tradition of the origin of the 
Games, we must discuss the, probably older, Women's Games, 
which seem to date from the earlier system of time-reckoning by 
the moon. 

The Heraea. 

We have seen that the Olympic festival was a moveable feast, 
and occurred alternately in Apollonios and Parthenios, which were 
probably the second and third months of the Elean year. This 
variation of the month is a strange and inconvenient arrangement 1 . 
Moreover it is unique. The Pythia also were held at intervals of 
50 and 49 months, but the incidence of the intercalated months of 
the octennial period was so arranged that the festival itself always 
fell in the same month (Bukatios) of the Delphic year. In the 
same way the Panathenaea, though penteteric, always fell in 
Hekatombaion. There must have been some very strong reason 
for the troublesome variation of months in the sole case of the 
most important of panhellenic gatherings. 

Weniger finds the reason in the existence of an older im- 
movable festival at the very season at which the reconstituted 
Games were to be fixed. Every fourth year a college called the 
Sixteen Women wove a robe for Hera and held games called the 

1 The following argument as to the month of the festival and its relation to the 
Heraea is taken from the penetrating analysis of Weniger, loc. cit., supra, p. 224. 

230 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

Heraea 1 . The games consisted of a race between virgins 2 , who 
ran in order of age, the youngest first, and the eldest last. The 
course was the Olympic stadium, less about one-sixth of its length 
(i.e. 500 instead of 600 Olympic feet). The winners received 
crowns of olive and a share of the cow sacrificed to Hera. ' They 
trace the origin of the games of the virgins, like those of the men, 
to antiquity, saying that Hippodameia, out of gratitude to Hera 
for her marriage with Pelops, assembled the Sixteen Women, 
and along with them arranged the Heraean games for the 
first time.' 

It is highly probable that these games of virgins (Parthenia) 
gave its name to the month Parthenios, and were in honour of 
Hera Parthenos — Hera, whose virginity was perpetually renewed 
after her sacred marriage with Zeus. It is also probable that 
they were held at the new moon, that is, on the first day of 
Parthenios 3 . Further, if these games gave the month its name, 
in that month they must always have fallen. Thus the octennial 
period of the Heraea is of the usual straightforward type, which 
keeps always to the same month. The natural inference is that 
the Heraea were first in the field, and that, when the men's games 
were fixed at the same season, it was necessary to avoid this older 
fixed festival. At the same time, if the games of Zeus were 
allowed to be established regularly in the middle of the previous 
month Apollonios, it was obvious that the Heraea would sink into 
a mere appendage. Zeus, on the other hand, was not inclined to 
yield permanent precedence to Hera. The deadlock was solved by 
a characteristic compromise. The octennial period for the Games 
of Zeus was so arranged that in alternate Olympiads they should 
fall fourteen days before, and fourteen days after, the Heraea 
(on Apollonios 14/15 and Parthenios 14/15). By this device of 
priestly ingenuity the honour of both divinities was satisfied, and 
so the inconvenient variation of months for the Olympic festival is 

1 Paus. v. 16. 2. 

2 The winners were allowed to dedicate statues of themselves (Paus. v. 16. 3). 
The girl-runner in the Vatican is probably one of these votive statues. Beside the 
girl, in this marble copy of the bronze original, is a palm branch on a stump as 
symbol of victory. 

3 Cf. Lydus, de mens. in. 10 ai KaXevSai "Hpas eopTT] eriiy^avov, tovt4<tti 1.t\-qvqs. 
The Heraea cannot in any case have fallen between the 10th and 16th of Parthenios, 
when the men's games were held in alternate Olympiads. 

vn] The Foot-race for the Bride 231 

The Heraea, then, were probably older than the reconstituted 
Olympia; and if they gave its name to the month Parthenios, 
they must have been annual before they were octennial or 
penteteric. They carry us back to the old lunar year, which 
preceded the combined sun-and-moon penteteris. Here again, as 
at Athens (p. 191), we find the moon associated with the olive 
tree ; she has also her horned cow, a portion of whose flesh fell to 
the victor in the virgin's race. The eating of this portion and the 
wearing of the olive crown symbolised that the victorious virgin 
was, in an especial sense, identified with the moon. She became 
the Hippodameia of her year 1 , and the chosen bride of the sacred 
marriage. It was not, at first, that she impersonated Hera 
Parthenos 2 : on the contrary, Hera Parthenos is the divinised 
projection and reflex of the Moon-maiden, the queen of the 
virgins that bore her company and, in all probability, went down 
to the river Parthenias, a tributary of the Alpheus, to draw the 
water tor her nuptial bath 3 . 

The Foot-race for the Bride. 

If the moon-bride was chosen by a foot-race, so also, it would 
seem, was the sun-bridegroom. We have already seen that the 
fifty daughters whom the moon bore to Endymion were the fifty 

1 The accusation against Oinomaos of incest with his daughter Hippodameia 
simply means that Hippodameia was the title of his ' wife ' and also of her 
successor, the wife of his successor, represented in myth as his ' daughter.' 

The Sixteen Women ' get up two choruses ' (xbpovs dvo (<rra<xi), one for Physcoa, 
and one for Hippodameia. Weniger, loc. cit., holds that this marks the union 
of two colleges — the Thyiads of Elis who honoured Physcoa and Dionysus, and 
a college in Pisatis who worshipped Hera and Hippodameia. It looks as if Oinomaos 
and Hippodameia were the Olympian doubles of Dionysus and Physcoa. For the 
equation Oinomaos = Dionysus cf. Athenaeus x. 426 f who cites Nicochares, 
Amymone (Kock i. 770) Olvd/xaos ovtos x a ^P € ttcvtc ko.1 dvo (the mixture of two parts 
wine with five water) and Eupolis, Aix (Kock i. 260), Ai6euo-e x a "P e ' PV TL irivre 
ko.1 dvo. Gruppe, Gr. Myth. u. Rel. i. 150, notes that Physcoa and Dionysus were 
worshipped at Oinoe (north of Olympia) and connects the name Oinomaos with 

2 Dr Frazer, G. B. 3 , Part m. p. 91, writes : ' If the olive-crowned victor in the 
men's race at Olympia represented Zeus, it becomes probable that the olive-crowned 
victor in the girls' race, which was held every fourth year in honour of Hera 
represented in like manner the god's wife.... But under the names of Zeus and Hera 
the pair of Olympic victors would seem to have really personated the Sun and 
Moon, who were the true heavenly bridegroom and bride of the ancient octennial 

3 Parthenias (Strabo vin. 3-57) or Parthenia, beside which was the grave of the 
mares (Parthenia and Eripha) of Marmax, first of Hippodameia's suitors (Paus. vi. 
21. 7). Hesych. "Hpee'toes- icdpai at Xovrpa Ko/xi^ovaat rrj "Hpg. Etym. Mag. p. 436 
'HpecriSes- at Upeiai tt?s if "Apyet "Upas- airb rijs " Upas ■ rj irapa rbv apvcrui /xiWovra, 
apvo-lrides, at apvofAevai ra \ovrpd. Cf. Paus. n. 17. 1 ; Weniger, loc. cit. 

232 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

moon months of the penteteris, and we are also told of Endymion, 
that he set his sons to race at Olympia for the kingdom 1 . This is 
a variant of the race of suitors for the hand of the princess, which 
in other similar stories carries the kingdom with it. 

Now we know of another family of fifty daughters whose hands 
were disposed of by competition in a foot-race — the Danaids. In 
the Ninth Pythian Pindar tells how the Libyan king Antaeus, 
desiring to compass a famous marriage for his daughter, followed 
the example of Danaus in Argos, who 

contrived for the forty and eight maidens a wedding most swift, before 
midday should be upon them. He presently made the whole company stand 
at the goal of the race-course and bade determine by a foot-race which 
maiden each hero should have, of all that came to be his sons-in-law. 

But, whereas Antaeus offered only one daughter as the prize for 
one out of many suitors, Danaus offered a bunch of forty-eight ; 
and another authority lets out the truth that some, if not all, 
of these eight and forty got no husbands. 

Pausanias 2 telling how Icarius set the wooers of Penelope to 
run the race in which of course Odysseus was successful, adds that 
Icarius (like Antaeus) imitated Danaus, who set the suitors to run 
for his daughters. The first man home had first choice of a 
Danaid, the second, the second choice, and so on. ' The daughters 
that ivere left had to wait till other wooers came and had run 
another race.' Now in Pindar's version forty-eight Danaids are 
offered. Why this number ? Because, we are told, two were 
already married — Hypermnestra and Amymone. Who are the 
forty-eight who cannot get husbands ? 

If the fifty daughters of Danaus are doubles of the fifty 
daughters of Endymion and the Moon, the answer is clear. The 
two who are married must be the first and last months of the 
penteteric cycle — the moons who are paired in sacred marriage 
with the midsummer sun 3 . 

The Danaids are also well-maidens, with functions, perhaps, 
like those of the Athenian Dew-Carriers (p. 173). To the moon- 
bride may have fallen the duty of bringing water for rain-charms, 

1 Paus. v. l. 3. 2 m 12 i. 

3 Note that Pindar says (v. 113) the race was to be run ' before midday should 
overtake them ' {-rrpiv p.iaov d/xap eXelv) ; before, that is to say, the sun at his height 
of noon or of midsummer carries off the one who is married. It may be observed 
that 48 = 16 + 16 + 16; does this account for the number of the Sixteen Women — 
sixteen for each of the remaining three years of the penteteris ? 

vn] The Foot-race for the Bride 233 

while the sun-bridegroom was charged with the maintenance of 
the solar fire 1 . 

Now, the Elean antiquaries said that for the first thirteen 
Olympiads from the beginning of the unbroken tradition, the only 
competition was the foot-race 2 . This is the race which we have 
seen reflected in myth as the race for the kingdom and the hand 
of the princess. In literal fact it seems to have been a contest to 
determine who should represent the male partner in the sacred 
marriage with the victor of the virgin's race. It has already been 
suggested that this personage could be regarded as, in a certain 
sense, the daimon of his 'year,' the 'king' for a limited period, 
on whom the rains of heaven and the fruits of earth would 

Modern analogies support this view of the significance of the 
foot-race. ' Games,' says Mr Chambers 3 , ' were a feature of 
seasonal, no less than of funeral feasts.... A bit of wrestling or 
a bout of quarter-staff is still de rigueur at many a wake or rush- 
bearing, while in parts of Germany the winner of a race or of a 
shooting-match at the popinjay is entitled to light the festival 
fire, or to hold the desired office of May-King.' 

The suggestion is further confirmed by an interesting ancient 
analogy. The Laconian Karneia were celebrated in the month 
Karneios, which corresponds to the Elean Apollonios. Their date, 
moreover, like that of the Olympian festival, with which they 
sometimes coincided 4 , seems to have been fixed with reference 

1 Cf. Chambers, The Mediaeval Stage, i. 122. In modern agricultural festivals 
'water is thrown on the fields and on the plough, while the worshippers them- 
selves, or a representative chosen from among them, are sprinkled or immersed. 
To this practice many survivals bear evidence ; the virtues persistently ascribed to 
dew gathered on May morning, the ceremonial bathing of women annually or in 
times of drought with the expressed purpose of bringing fruitfulness on man or 
beast or crop, the "ducking" customs...,' etc. The interpretation of the Danaids 
as rain-makers is due to Mr A. B. Cook and will be discussed by him in his forth- 
coming book Zeus. 

2 Paus. v. 8. 6. Cf. Plut. Symp. Qu. v. 2. 675 c (above, p. 221). 

3 The Mediaeval Stage, i. 148. Mr Chambers refers to Frazer, G.B. 2 i. 217; 
in. 258. Cf. Mannhardt, Ant. Wald- und Feldkulte, p. 254, ' Jene deutschen 
Maitags- und Ernteumgange nehmen mehrfach auch die Form eines Wettlaufs an, 
bei welchem entweder die letzte, den Korndamon darstellende Garbe oder der 
Maibaum das Ziel ist, oder durch welchen die Rollen bei dem Vmffange mit dem 
Laubmann, Pfingstbutz u.s.iv. entschieden werden. Der Wettlauf bildet den ersten 
Akt, die Prozession mit dem durch den Sieger in demselben dargestellten Vege- 
tationsdamon den zweiten Akt der Festbegehungen.' 

4 For instance in the year 480 B.C., Herod, vn. 206 ; vm. 72. 

234 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

to the full moon 1 . The festival was conducted by a college of 
Karneatai, young, unmarried men, who were chosen, five from 
each tribe (?), and held office for four years 2 — a period which 
seems to indicate that this annual festival was held with especial 
splendour once in each penteteris. 

The rite which specially concerns us is the race of the 
Staphylodromoi 3 . These were young men, chosen from among 
the Karneatai ; their title was derived from the clustered vine- 
branches which they carried in their hands. One of their number 
decked himself with garlands and ran, ' praying for a blessing on 
the city ' ; the rest pursued him. If he was overtaken, it was 
supposed to bring good luck ; if not, the reverse. 

The race here takes a different form from those we have been 
concerned with — probably an older form 4 , which did not degenerate 
into a mere athletic competition. The young man, decked with 
garlands and perhaps also disguised with the skin of a beast so as 
to be the ' mumming representative of a daimon 5 ,' embodies the 
luck of the year, which will be captured or lost, according as 
the youth is overtaken or escapes. His connection with the fruits 
of the year is marked by the vine-clusters ; and it does not 
surprise us to find that at Cyrene the festival of Apollo Karneios 
was celebrated with the slaughter of many bulls, and that his 
altars were decorated ' in spring with all the flowers the Horae 
bring when the west wind blows laden with dew, and in winter 

1 Eur. Alk. 448, 

"LirapTq. kvk\os aviKa Kapvelov irepLvloceTaL upas 
firjvbs, deipoLievas Travvvxov creXdvas. 

For the Karneia see S. Wide, Lakonische Kulte, p. 73 ff., Nilsson, Gr. Feste, 
p. 118 ff. • 

2 Hesych. napvearaL' ot aya/xoi' KeKXrjpu/j.e'voL be ini rr)v tov Kapvelov Xeirovpyiav ' 
irevre be d(p' eKao~T7)s < <pvXrjs Castellanus> eirl Terpaeriav eXeLrovpyovv. 

3 Bekk. Anecd. I. p. 305 (TTa<pv\o5p6pLof Kara rr)v tu>v Kapvelwv eoprrpi ariiLfiaTd 
tls Trepide'/Aevos rpexet. eTrevx6p-evos tl ttj 7ro\ei xprjaTov, eTridiwKovcri 8e avrbv v£oi, 
0~Ta<pv\o5p6iJ.0L Ka\ov/xevoi. Kai eav p.ev KaraXd^wai. avrbv, dyadbv tl it potrboKuxnv Kara, 
rd emxupia ttj TrbXei, el be fir), Tovvavrlov. The Oschophoria at Athens was a similar 
festival, see Athenaeus xi. 62, p. 496. It began with a race of epheboi carrying 
ocxot and they birjfxiWQvTo wpbs dWr)\ovs bpbpuj). The victor (6 wpbrepos) went in 
procession with his band, Kuifxd^ei yuera x°P°S. For the Oschophoria see infra, 
p. 320. 

4 Compare the Eegifugium on Feb. 24, four days from the end of the old Roman 
year, discussed by Dr Frazer (G.B. 3 Part i. vol. ii. pp. 308 — 312), who compares 
this ' flight ' to races for the kingdom. 

5 Hesych. aTefXfJ.aTi.alov ' blnr)\bv tl tv eoprrj irofxwevov (codd. irop.Tre'Lov) bal/uovos. 
AIktjXov is glossed as (pdcr/na, filfirifia, etbwXov, fybiov, etc. ; biKr)\iKTal are mummers. 
See S. Wide, loc. cit. 

vii ] The Foot-race of the Kouretes 235 

with the sweet crocus 1 .' The slain bulls were eaten at a dais or 
eranos 2 . The Kameia are an instructive instance, because they 
show us the complete series : first the animal — icdpvos means 
a ram ; next the human youth with animal disguise ; then 
the daimon Karneios, or Kranios Stemmatios 3 ; finally the 
Olympian Apollo, surnamed Karneios and Dromaios to remind 
him that he had taken the place of a ram-racer. 

The Foot-race of the Kouretes. 

We are now in a position to interpret the Elean legend of 

the origin of the Games — a legend which has been persistently 

rejected, merely because the facts which have been thrown into 

relief in the preceding chapters of this book were unknown or not 

understood 4 . 

With regard to the Olympic games, the Elean antiquaries say that 
Kronos first reigned in Heaven, and that a temple was made for him by the 
men of that age, who were named the Golden Race ; that when Zeus was 
born, Rhea committed the safe- keeping of the child to the Idaean Daktyls or 
Kouretes, as they are also called ; that the Daktyls came from Ida in Crete, 
and their names were Herakles, Paeonaeus, Epimedes, Jasios, and Idas ; and 
that in sport Herakles, the eldest, set his brethren to run a race, and crowned 
the victor with a branch of wild olive, of which they had such an abundance 
that they slept on heaps of its fresh green leaves 5 . 

After what has gone before, no lengthy comment is needed. 
The Games are traced back to an original foot-race, held by young 
men, Kouretes, from Crete 6 , presumably analogous to the young, 
unmarried Kameatai of Sparta. The race, we may suppose, deter- 
mined who should be the Kouros — the Greatest Kouros — of his 
year. The winner received, not a prize of commercial value such 

1 Kallim. in Apoll. 77 ff. 

2 Pind. Pyth. v. 77 tto\v6vtov 'ipavov Zvdev dvade^afiivav," AttoWov, rea, Kapv^i', iv 
dairi <re(iL£op.ev Kvp&vas dyaKTi/xevav tt6\iv. 

3 Paus. in. 20. 9, Kranios Stemmatios had a temenos on the road from Arcadia 
to Sparta. 

4 The Elean tradition reported by Pausanias is not to be despised ; for it must 
be remembered that its natural custodians, the two priestly houses of the Iamidae 
and Klytiadae, held office at Olympia with unbroken continuity down to the tbird 
century a.d. (cf. Weniger, Der heilige Olbaum in Olympia, Weimar, 1895, p. 2). 

5 Paus. v. 7. 6. 

6 Plato, Laws, 625 d : Crete is uneven and specially suited to foot-racing. The 
social importance of foot-races is marked at Gortyn, where the epbebi not yet 
admitted to full rights were called dir68pop.oi, did to p,r)8twu) tGiv kolvQv dpo/xui/ 
p.€Tix ei - v (-A- r - Byz.); whereas 5pop.e?s possessed rights of mature years, see Busolt, 
Gr. Gesch. i. 344. At the Panathenaea there was a ' long foot-race ' (ncucpos 8p6/xos) 
of the ephebi from the altar of Eros, where they lighted torches ; the wvpd of the 
Goddess' victims was lighted with the victor's torch, Schol. ad Plat. Phaedr. 231 e. 
Philostratus, ir. yvp.v. 5, describes the stadion race at Olympia as a race for the 
honour of lighting the fire on the altar. 

236 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

as were usual in funeral games, but a symbol of his office as 
vegetation-daimow — the branch of the sacred tree. This branch 
reminds us of the golden bough, and perhaps, links the foot-race 
of the young men to the contest between the young and the old 
king. For in the famous wood at Nemi, it was he who succeeded 
in tearing a bough from the sacred tree, who had a right to con- 
tend in single combat with the King of the Wood for succession 
to his office 1 . 

It is possible that the sacred tree from which the victor's 
wreath or branch was plucked was not at first the olive-tree, which 
may have belonged rather to the moon and the virgin victor of 
the Heraea. One curious tradition points to another fruit-tree — 
the apple. Phlegon of Tralles 2 , a contemporary of Pausanias, tells 
how in the sixth Olympiad, Iphitus consulted the Delphic oracle 
as to how the victors should be crowned. The God told him not 
to make the fruit of the apjile the prize of victory, but to take the 
wild olive, ' now wreathed in the light web of the spider.' Iphitus 
found among the many wild olives of the temenos one which was 
covered with spider's webs, and he built a wall round it. The first 
victor to be crowned with olive was Da'ikles of Messene, who won 
the footrace in the seventh Olympiad. If this tradition has any 
truth in it, we may suppose that the original apple-bough was 
superseded by the olive borrowed from the moon-goddess 3 , possibly 
when the race of the young men was combined with that of the 
virgins, at the introduction of the sun-and-moon calendar, and 
the men's games were assimilated as closely as possible to the 

Even before it became the moon-tree, the holy olive probably 
belonged to Earth. We have seen how the Kouretes 'slept on 
heaps of its fresh green leaves.' They were like the Selloi of 
Dodona who slept upon the ground (xafiaievvai), in order that 

1 Servius ad JEn. vi. 136 Dabatur autem fugitivis potestas ut si quis exinde 
ramum potuisset auferre, monomachia cum fugitive- templi sacerdote dimicaret. 
- F.H.G. in. p. 604 

"I01T6, firjXeiov Kapirbv fiy dys eiri vtKrj, 
aWa tov dypLOf a/jupirldei Kapwdidr] ZXatov, 
5s vvv dpuptxerat. Xewrotcnv v<pdap.aa dpdxvrjs. 
'■'■ According to the legend told in Find. 01. in. Herakles went to the land of the 
Hyperboreans to fetch the wild olive. On his former visit, in quest of the golden- 
horned hind, he was welcomed there, not by Apollo, but by Artemis, the horse- 
rider {Iwirocba, cf. Hippodameia), and then it was that he ' stood and marvelled at 
the trees.' 

vn] The Olive-branch 237 

in their dreams they might draw oracular wisdom from the Earth 1 , 
Olympia also had its Earth oracle and its cult of Demeter 
Chamyne 2 , whose priestess sat enthroned in a place of honour and 
witnessed the Games of Zeus. 

The theory, of course, presupposes that the Olympic Games, 
like the Karneia, the Panathenaea, the Heraea, and others, were 
annual before they were penteteric ; for the penteteris, as we have 
remarked, is an astronomical cycle independent of the yearly 
upspringing and decay of vegetation 3 . The supposition is very 
probable, when we consider the late and artificial character of 
periods which combine the sun calendar with the older reckoning 
by the moon. In discussing that combination we agreed with 
Dr Frazer that from its introduction the Olympic victor repre- 
sented the Sun united in marriage with the Moon. Even if there 
were no further evidence, it would still be a reasonable conjecture 
that in earlier days, the sacred marriage, here as elsewhere, had 
been an annual feast, and its protagonists instead of being related 
to the celestial bridegroom and bride, had embodied the powers 
of fertility in a more primitive form directly associated with the 
seasonal life of nature. If that is so, the new penteteric festival in 
the late summer may have attracted to itself features, such as the 
single combat and the foot-race for the olive branch, from feasts 
which under the older systems of time-reckoning would naturally 
belong to winter or to spring. We are therefore untouched by 
objections based on the time of year of the historic Games — a 
time fixed solely with reference to the Sun and Moon. We are at 
liberty to suppose that the winner of the foot-race represented the 
fertility-cfcu'raow, before he represented the Sun. As one mode of 
time-reckoning supersedes another, so in the sphere of religion 
emphasis is successively laid on Earth, with her changing seasons 
and meteoric phenomena, on the Moon, and on the Sun. This 
line of enquiry may set at rest many old-standing controversies. 

1 Horn. II. xvi. 234. This analogy is pointed out by Weniger, Der heilige 
Olbaum, p. 19. 

2 Gruppe, Gr. Myth. u. Eel. i. 142, calls attention to the probable identity 
of Iasios, one of the Idaean Daktyls called the brothers of Herakles in the Elean 
legend, with Iasion who lay with Demeter on the ground (Hes. Tlieog. 969, 
Od. v. 125). 

3 We here welcome the support of Professor Ridgeway, who, as reported in the 
Athenaeum, May 20, 1911, ' pointed out that the astronomical cycles, such as the 
Metonic, were late, and may have come in with the remaking of the games, which 
must have existed long before b.c. 776 at Olympia.' 


238 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch 

Take such a divinity as Osiris, who began life as a vegetation- 
spirit, manifest in trees or in the corn. Ancient theologians and 
modern students have again and again upheld or refuted the 
propositions that ' Osiris is the Moon,' ' Osiris is the Sun,' or that 
he is neither. The truth will, we believe, prove to be more 
complex. These vegetation-spirits or Year Gods successively take 
on moon and sun attributes, when the lunar calendar supersedes 
the agricultural, and again when the lunar calendar is first com- 
bined with, then superseded by, the solar. There is no simple 
answer to the question : ' Is Osiris the Moon, or is he the Sun ? ' 
He began as neither, and has passed through both phases. 

As each new stage succeeds, the older festivals are not abolished. 
Some are adapted, with necessary shifts to a different season of 
the year. Others survive in a degenerate form, as holidays. So, 
and so only, can we account for the extraordinary duplication of 
festivals in ancient calendars, and for the occurrence, at different 
times of the year and attached to different divinities, of rites which 
are obviously identical in content. 

If we may assume the same succession of calendars at Olympia, 
the several stages would correspond to the succession we have 
made out for the sacred Tree. In the earliest, seasonal or agri- 
cultural, stage the olive belonged to Earth, to Demeter Chamyne. 
Then it passed to Hera the moon-goddess and became the prize 
of the moon-virgin's race. Finally, when sun and moon were 
united in the ennaeteris, the olive-branch supplanted the original 
apple-bough, and became the prize also for the foot-race of the 

The Mother and Child and Kouretes at Olympia. 

Further evidence is not wanting in support of the tradition 
at Olympia of the Idaean Daktyls or Kouretes, to whose foot-race 
for the olive-branch the Games were traced back. This tradition 
is firmly rooted in the monuments and cults of Olympia. The 
legend, as we have seen, says that 'when Zeus was born, Rhea 
committed the safe-keeping of the child to the Idaean Daktyls 
or Kouretes, who came from Ida in Crete.' Pindar 1 himself is 

1 01. V. 17 -iWTTjp i>\J/Lve(pes ZeD, Kpoviov re vaiwv \6<pov 

tl/xu>v t ' \\<t>tbv evpb peovra 'IdaTov re o~e/j.vbv avrpov. 
Schol. ad v. 42 'Idaiov avrpov ev "HXiSt Arip.^rpios 6 '2.KTi r 'i.os...iepbv Ai6s. evioi 
oe vo/j.l£ovTes fj.rj tQv iv'HXidi x <J P LWV o-i/rbv /xe/xvyjcrdai inrtXaftov pivr)/j.oveueLv"Idr]s rrjs 

iv KpT]T-Q... . 




our witness that on the hill of Kronos Olympia had a Cave which 
was called Idaean, manifestly because it was a counterpart of the 
Cave of the Birthplace on Cretan Ida. To this Cave the legend 
of the /covporpocpia belongs. We must look for it among a small 
group of sanctuaries, whose high antiquity is marked, among other 
things, by their close neighbourhood to the foot of the sacred hill 
of Kronos. The later shrines and precincts of Pelops and the 
Olympian Father Zeus had to find room further out towards 
the river. 

Fm. 59. 

In this group (Figs. 59 and 60) we find, first, the Metroon, 
marking the site of a very ancient cult of the Mother Goddess ; 
and close by it an altar of the Kouretes 1 . Right on the skirts of 
the hill, behind the line of the later treasuries, stood a small 
shrine of the Mother and Infant — Eileithyia and Sosipolis' 2 . This 
little temple moreover did not stand clear of the hillside ; the 
back wall appears to have been actually engaged in it. This 
circumstance, observed by Dorpfeld, has led to the identification 

1 Paus. v. 8. 1. 

2 Paus. vi. 20. 2. 


The Origin of the Olympic Games 


of the shrine with the Idaean Cave, and of ' Zeus the Saviour,' 
who as Pindar says honoured it, with the Saviour of the City, 
Sosipolis 1 . 

So we find among the most ancient monuments of the Altis 
a complex of shrines dedicated to the Mother and Child, and 
the attendant Kouretes — a group whose significance has already 
been made clear 2 . It represents the three essential factors of a 
matrilinear society 3 . 

The ritual of this shrine of Eileithyia and Sosipolis was simple 4 . 
The priestess, an old woman annually chosen, brought water to 
wash the infant god, and set out barley cakes kneaded with honey. 
These honey-cakes were food for the serpent — the animal form 

Micro* of 


Fig. 60. 

of the god. For legend said that once, when the Arcadians in- 
vaded Elis, the baby Sosipolis was set naked before the Elean 
army ; and he changed into a snake and the Arcadians ran away. 
Then the snake vanished into the earth, no doubt at the very 
spot where this cave-shrine was afterwards built. 

Only the aged priestess might enter the inner shrine. Outside, 
the maids and matrons waited, singing a hymn, and offering 
incense of all sorts, but with no libations of wine. These offerings — 
incense and wineless libations — are, as we know, characteristic of 

1 See Carl Robert, Sosipolis in Olympia, Mitth. d. Arch. Inst. Athen, Abth. 
xviii. 1893, p. 37 ff. 

2 It may be observed that the next stage of the Elean tradition is the arrival 
from Crete of Klymenos, a descendant of the Idaean Herakles, who erects an altar 
of ashes to Olympian Hera, and an altar to Herakles surnamed Parastates, and 
the other Kouretes (Paus. v. 8. 1 and 14. 8). 

3 See supra, p. 39, and infra, chapter xi. 

4 Paus. vi. 20. 2. 


Sosijwlis in Magnesia 


pre-Olympian divinities — the elder gods of the Earth or of the 
Sky 1 . Sosipolis, the snake-child, like Erichthonios, was of the 
Earth 2 . The Earth was his mother; for 'Eileithyia' is only one 
name of the Mother Goddess, Rhea, Demeter, Gaia. 

In Magnesia, as we have seen 
(p. 154), Sosipolis has become Zeus Sosi- 
polis. Nevertheless, right down into 
Imperial times the tradition survived 
of his infant form and of his therio- 
morph, the snake. Fig. 61 shows one 
of a series of bronze coins of Magnesia 
of the time of Caracalla 3 . On it 
appears the infant Saviour seated on 
a table or throne with legs of thunder- 
bolt pattern. Round him are his 
Kouretes, clashing their shields ; and, underneath, the snake 
emerges from a cista. 

Who was the child Sosipolis ? Not far from Olympia, at Elis 
itself, Sosipolis had a sanctuary in common with Tyche. ' There he 
was represented not as an infant, but as a boy, clad in a star- 
spangled robe and holding the horn of Amaltheia, the goat who 
suckled the infant Zeus in Crete 4 — the cornucopia with the fruits 
of the year 5 . Tyche and Sosipolis are the same as Eirene and 
the child Ploutos — the Hora 6 carrying the Wealth of the year. 

The festival of Magnesian Sosipolis has already been discussed 
(p. 150) ; and it has been argued that the bull, who was designated 
at the full moon of the month Kronion — the month of seed-time — 
fed up all through the winter, and eaten at a communal meal in 
spring or early summer, embodied the life of the year, was the 

1 See J. E. Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 89. 

2 Compare the snake-child Opheltes-Archemoros associated with the founding 
of the Nemean Games (Apollod. in. 6. 4 ; Bacchyl. vin. 10) and the child Aix which 
tended its father the Python slain by Apollo, connected with the origin of the 
Pythia (Plut. Qu. Gr. p. 293 c ; see Nilsson, Gr. Feste, p. 151). Another 
Olympian hero, Iamos, is nursed by snakes, Pind. 01. vi. 45. 

3 From Eayet, Milet et le golfe Latinique, Fig. 36, p. 139. The obverse has the 
laurel -crowned head of Caracalla. See also Imhoof-Blumer, Gr. Miinzen, 1890, 
pi. 8. 33. 

4 The Cretan Zeus also has his snake form, Schol. Arat. 46 ; Eratosth. catast. 
25. 62 ; cf. C. Kobert, loc. cit. supra. 

5 Compare also the Eniautos with Amaltheia's horn in Ptolemy's procession, 
p. 186, supra. 

6 Hesiod, Theog. 903; Pind. 01. xni. 6 Evt>ofj.ia...AlKa...Eipr}va, rafilai. avdpacri 

H. 16 

242 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

daimon of the eniautos. He is identical with the Kouros of the 
Cretan hymn, who comes ' for the Year,' and brings with him the 
blossoming of the Seasons 1 . 

Before we leave the Kouretes and their foot-race, we must 
mention a curious parallel from Hebrew tradition 2 , which gives us 
a combination of moon and sun races, and also seems to confirm 
the identification, already mentioned (p. 193), of the Kouretes 
with the Roman Salii. 

The Jewish Agada contains a dialogue between certain Rabbis 
and their disciples concerning the hippodrome of Solomon. 
Solomon held twelve horse-races in each year, one in every month. 
' Why not thirteen ? ' says a disciple, for there were thirteen 
months. One race, replies the Rabbi, was not a horse-race, but 
a foot-race of young men of the tribe of Gad, as it is written 3 : 
' And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the 
hold to the wilderness, mighty men of valour, men trained for war, 
that could handle shield and spear ; whose faces were like the faces 
of lions, and they were swift as the roes upon the mountains.' This 
race of youths was run in the intercalary month Tebeth which 
contains the winter solstice. They also carried golden shields. 
It is written of them 4 : ' As oft as the king went into the House 
of the Lord, the Runners bare them (the golden shields), and 
brought them back to their chamber.' 

These young men called ' Runners ' (o^n) seem strangely 
analogous to the Roman ' Leapers ' (the Salii), who also kept shields 
(ancilia) in a chamber and brought them out in solemn procession 
in the month of Mars — the first month of the old Roman year. 
The interesting point about Solomon's Kouretes-Salii is that their 
race, falling in the intercalary month, seems to be a moon-race on 
foot, as contrasted with the horse-races of the sun in the other 
twelve months. Such may originally have been the foot-race of 
the Idaean Kouretes at Olympia, becoming a sun-race when 
the Kouros was identified with the sun. 

1 Does this conception throw light on the obscure figure of the ' Saviour Yeaa' 
(Avk&Pcls Swfwj') in Asia Minor? Cf. Eoscher, Lex. , s.v. Orthopolis. Awd/Saj, 
according to Stengel (Hermes, xvin., p. 304) is the moon. 

2 See Wiinsche, Salomos Hippodrom als Abbild des babylonischen Himmelsbildes, 
Leipzig, 1906. Cf. Eisler, Arch. f. Religionswiss. xi. (1907) 150. 

s 1 Chron. xii. 8. 

4 1 Kings xiv. 28. The Authorised Version not understanding the Runners 

translates CVin by 'the guard.' 

vn] The Feast of Tantalus 243 

The Saviour of the City may, then, be represented either as an 
animal — a bull among a pastoral people, or a snake when he is 
a ' local daimon 1 ' or hero — or as a human infant, boy, or youth. 
We need not be disturbed by the differences of age 2 . The change 
from the old year to the new may be symbolised in various ways. 
We are familiar with the venerable Father Christmas on the verge 
of the grave, and with the New Year as an infant. 

At Olympia Sosipolis became fixed in his infant shape beside 
his mother Eileithyia. Every year he must be born anew and 
washed with the holy water by his venerable nursing-mother. 
But another type is well-known — the youth (Adonis, Attis, Osiris), 
who dies and rises again in spring. 

This Easter death and resurrection of the same individual 
is evidently at first distinct from the death of the Old Year at the 
hands of the New, where the two individuals are necessarily 
different and the death might be a real death. The death, on the 
other hand, which is followed by a resurrection, cannot be real ; it 
must always have been a mimetic rite. Does the Olympian 
legend of Pelops preserve traces of a bpcofievov of this type ? We 
shall attempt to show that it does. 

The Feast of Tantalus. 

One element in the legend of Pelops, as told by Pindar in the 
first Olympian, still waits to be explained — the banquet of Tantalus. 
We have remarked that it constitutes a crux for the theory of the 
funeral origin of the Games. If the Games merely commemorated 
the achievements of Pelops, why had this dark and monstrous 
story lasted down to Pindar's time as part of the Olympian 
legend of the hero ? To ignore or to suppress it would have been 
simpler than to keep it and explain it away. 

1 Paus. v. 20. 2 2wcrt7roAi5 'HXetots ewixwpt-os 5ai/xuv. 

2 Cf. the various ages of Dionysos, p. 41, and Macrob. Sat. i. xviii. 9 on the 
various ages of the Sun: item Liberi Patris (=Solis in inferno hemisphaerio) 
simulacra partim puerili aetate, partim iuvenis nngunt. Praeterea barbata specie, 
senili quoque...hae autem aetatum diversitates ad solem referuntur, ut parvulus 
videatur hiemali solstitio, qualem Aegyptii proferunt ex adyto die certa, quod 
tunc brevissimo die veluti parvus et infans videatur. Exinde autem procedentibus 
augmentis aequinoctio vernali similiter atque adulescentis adipiscitur vires figuraque 
iuvenis ornatur. Postea statuitur eius aetas plenissima effigie barbae solstitio 
aestivo, quo tempore summum sui consequitur augmentum. Exinde per dimi- 
nutiones veluti senescenti quarta forma deus nguratur. 


244 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

We shall proceed, as before, on the supposition that this 
incident, like the other factors in the myth already explained, 
is not an event in the real history of an individual called Pelops, 
but reflects a rite or Bpco/xevov. It may have escaped suppression 
because the ritual was more important than the reputation of the 
hero and his father. We hope to show further that this rite was 
of a nature which enables us to relate it to the New Year rites we 
have already found embedded in other parts of the legend. 

The story of the Feast of Tantalus, with the primitive and 
horrible features which so shocked the conventional piety of 
Pindar, is as follows. Invited by the gods to eat nectar and 
ambrosia at their table, Tantalus asked them in return to a banquet 
on the summit of Mount Sipylos. The feast was an eranos ; that 
is to say, each guest brought a contribution. Tantalus, at the last 
course, served the flesh of his son Pelops, whom he had cut in 
pieces and boiled in a cauldron. The deities were taken at 
unawares, and one of them, Demeter, ate of the horrible dish. 
Then Zeus, seeing what had been done, ordered that the flesh 
should be put back into the cauldron and the child restored whole 
and sound. According to Bacchylides 1 , it was Rhea, the mother 
goddess, who revived Pelops by passing him through the cauldron. 
In Pindar's revised and expurgated version, the infant is taken out 
of a ' pure cauldron ' by Klotho, the Birth Fate — /cadapov \ej3rjTos 
efe\e KXcoOco. Finally, Zeus blasted Mount Sipylos with thunder 
and earthquake, to punish Tantalus for his impiety, or else (as 
some have held) for carrying piety to an indiscreet excess. One 
reason why it is so hard to please the gods is that it is so hard to 
know beforehand at what moment they will have outgrown the 
sort of things which used to please them. 

Now, what was the essential purport of the ritual described in 
this myth ? What was actually done to the infant, and with what 
intent ? In the right answer to this question lies our hope of con- 
necting the Feast of Tantalus with the institution of the Games. 

Is it a human sacrifice, counteracted by a miracle ? Such is 
the common view 2 , which sees a parallel to the more famous 

1 Bacch. frag. 54 (Jebb) ap. Schol. Pind. 01. I. 40 6 5e Ba/cxiAiS^s top HeXowa. 
tt)v "Peav \iyei vyidcrai Kadelaav 5ia X^ros. I suspect that Bacchylides is meant by 
the wporepoi whom Pindar controverts, 01. i. 37. 

2 See Roscher, Lex., s.v. Pelops. 

vn] The Boiling of Pelops 245 

sacrifice of Isaac on the mountain top. But in such stories do we 
not always find a vicarious victim ? Something at least is really 
made over to the gods — if not Isaac, then a ram caught in a thicket; 
and the original human victim escapes. Here, on the contrary, 
there is no substitute ; the gods get no equivalent for the victim. 
A sacrifice in which nothing is really made over to the gods is not 
a sacrifice in the usual sense. 

If we put aside this explanation, what remains ? Nothing is 
more certain than that if you cut a child to pieces and boil it, you 
cannot afterwards restore it to life by boiling it a second time. If 
the child was really killed, the restoration to life was miraculous ; 
in other words, it did not happen. But suppose that the restoration 
to life was, not a miraculous interruption of the rite, but the 
central core of the rite itself. Suppose, in fact, that it was 
a ritual, not of sacrifice, but of regeneration, of New Birth ? 
Then, as in countless other such ceremonies, the symbolic re- 
surrection is preceded by a symbolic and counterfeit death. A 
pretence is made of killing the child in order that it may be born 
again to a new life. Pindar writes more wisely than he knows 
when he says the child Pelops was taken out of a ' pure ' or 
* purifying ' cauldron by Klotho, a Birth-YoXe. The ritual was of 
Birth — of that Second Birth which, sooner or later, comes to be 
conceived as 'purification 1 .' 

To prove that it is so, the other features of the narrative must 
be explained. Why does this rite of new birth take place at the 
conclusion of a feast on a mountain-top ? Why does the mimic 
death of the child take the form of his being dismembered, 
cooked, and eaten ? Why is the mountain riven with thunder 
at the close ? 

First, what mountain was the scene of this banquet of the gods ? 

Pindar accepts the tradition that Pelops came from Lydia, 
and that the mountain was Sipylos in Magnesia. There, on the 
very summit of an isolated crag is still to be seen the rock-cut seat 

1 Rejuvenation by cooking occurs in the legend of Medea, who persuaded 
the daughters of Pelias (whom Gruppe, Or. Rel. u. Myth. i. 145, regards as 
a double of Pelops) to dismember and boil him. To convince tbem, Medea made 
a ram into a lamb by the same process (Apollod. i. 9. 27). This, I suspect, was the 
Golden Ram or Lamb, that is the Sun, whose daughter Medea was. Compare 
Menerva cooking the young Mars on the Praenestine cista in Fig. 50, p. 198. Cf. 
Roscher, Lex., s.v. Mars. 

246 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

called the Throne of Pelops ; and, lower down on the face of the 
cliff, the sanctuary of the Mountain Mother, here worshipped 
under the name of Mother Plastene 1 . But this was not the only 
home of the legend of Tantalus. There is also a Mount Tantalus 
in Lesbos, where some traits of the story reappear 2 . And not only 
so; but no less an authority than Aeschylus makes King Tantalus 
reign on Mount Ida in Phrygia. The poet even transfers Sipylos 
to the neighbourhood of Ida 3 . 

Strabo complains of Aeschylus for making (as he says) this 
'confusion'; but in another passage 4 Strabo himself tells us how 
the confusion came about. It was due to identity of cults in the 
two places. The Great Mother of Mount Sipylos was also the 
Lady of Ida. 'The Berekyntes,' he says, 'and the Phrygians in 
general, and the Trojans living at Ida worship Rhea with mystical 
rites... and after the various places of her cult, they call her Idaea > 
Dindymene, Sipylene, Pessinuntis, Kybele.' 'The Greeks,' he adds, 
' call her attendants Kouretes! 

This gives us a clue. It suggests a form of cult to which we 
can refer the ritual of Tantalus' Feast — the cult, namely, which 
prevailed all down the coast of Asia Minor, of the Great Mother 
and her Child, with her attendant Kouretes or Korybantes — the 
very cult which we have found established at the foot of the hill of 
Kronos at Olympia. 

Following this clue let us move southward again from Mount 
Ida to Ephesus. Here we shall find an Olympianised form of this 
same cult of the Mother and Child, flourishing throughout 
historical antiquity 5 . This instance is specially important for us, 
because here, at Ephesus, we have as a constituent part of the 
cult, a banquet, a eranos feast, on the top of a mountain. Strabo's- 
account 6 is as follows : 

On the coast near Ephesus, a little above the sea, lies Ortygia, a splendid 
grove (aXaos) of trees of all sorts, mostly cypress. Through it flows the river 
Kenchrios where they say Leto washed after her travail. For here legend 
tells of the Birth, of the nurse Ortygia, of the Birth-place, where no one may 
enter, and of the olive-tree close by where the goddess is said to have rested 
after her travail. 

1 Paus. v. 13. 7, and Frazer, ad loc. 

2 In Lesbos we hear also of Thyestes (whose homonym in Argive legend was, 
like Tantalus, concerned in a TfKvo<payia) and Daito, who must be connected with 
some ritual dais. See schol. and Tzetzes ad Lyk. Al. 212. 

3 Strabo xn. 580, Aesch. frag. 156. 4 Strabo x. 469. 
5 See Tac. Ann. in. 61. * xiv. 639. 

vn] The Kouretes at Ephesus 247 

Above this grove is a mountain, Solmissos, where they say the Kouretes 
took their stand and with the clash of their arms frightened the jealous Hera 
who was lying in wait, and helped Leto to conceal the birth. (There are 
ancient temples with ancient images of wood, as well as later temples with 
statues by Scopas and others.) 

Here, every year, the people assemble to celebrate a festival, at which it 
is the custom for the young men to vie with one another in the magnificence 
of their contributions to the entertainment. At the same season a college of 
the Kouretes holds banquets and performs certain mystical sacrifices. 

There is little doubt that the ancient wooden images in these 
mountain shrines had represented a Mother and Infant of an older 
type than Leto and her children. The presence of the Kouretes, 
the attendant ministers of Rhea, is proof enough. Leto has 
superseded Rhea, just as in later times Leto's daughter, 'Great 
Artemis of the Ephesians, whom all Asia and the world wor- 
shipped,' gave place in her turn to yet another Asiatic mother 
with her divine child. 

On Mount Solmissos, above the cypress grove of the Birth-place, 
the tradition at least, if not the practice, survived, of a dance of 
young men in arms to conceal the divine birth. Certainly, the 
young men played a prominent part in the banquet on the 
mountain top, held by the college of Kouretes and their president, 
the Protokoures 1 , with certain sacrifices called 'mystical' (fivarcKal 
dvalai), to mark that they were not ordinary Olympian sacrifices, 
such as would naturally belong to the cult of Leto and her twins. 
Of what nature were the mystical rites of this mountain-banquet ? 
To answer that question we must go southward again to a still 
more famous seat of the same cult, where we shall find the 
remaining features of the Feast of Tantalus, and an explanation of 
their significance. 

In Crete 2 , as we have already seen (p. 13), the birth of a divine 
child, called Zeus, was concealed from his father Kronos, who had 
eaten his other children immediately after their birth. Here too 
the concealment was aided by a dance of young men in arms, 
called Kouretes. 

The myth and ritual of Zagreus have already (p. 14) been 
examined. It has been shown that the ceremonies, in a compara- 
tively late and civilised form, including a banquet, a procession with 

1 See Pauly-Wiss. s.v. Ephesia, col. 2756, and supra, p. 46, and E. Heberdey, 
Jahreshefte Oestr. Inst. vin. 1905, Beiblatt, p. 77, for recent discoveries of 
inscribed drums with names of Kouretic officials. 

2 Strabo x. 468. 

248 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

torches of the mountain mother, and certain thunder-rites, formed 
a rite of ordination held by a sacred college of Kouretes, analogous 
to the Kouretes at Ephesus. We may presume that the banquet 
was held, in Crete as at Ephesus, on the sacred mountain. We 
have seen too that the myth of Zagreus retains certain primitive, 
and even disgusting, traits which carry us back to very early rites 
of tribal initiation. This myth supplies the remaining details of 
the Feast of Tantalus. We are told that the wicked Titans tore 
the child in pieces, put a cauldron on a tripod, and boiled his 
limbs, piercing them with spits 1 . The horrid repast ends with an 
epiphany of the Thunderer 2 . Zeus was invited to the feast, but 
discovering what had been done, blasted the Titans with his bolt 3 . 
The child was restored to life ; his torn limbs were collected, and 
he 'emerged whole and entire 4 .' 

The analogy, or rather identity, of this rite with the death and 
resurrection of Pelops can hardly leave a doubt that the Feast of 
Tantalus was in essence a ceremony of New Birth, of mock death 
and resurrection, and also, in some sense, of Initiation. It gives 
us the ritual which is needed to complete the religion of the 
Mother and Child and the Kouretes at the Idaean Cave beneath 
the hill of Kronos. 

The next point to be considered is, what connection can there 
be between an initiation ceremony, such as we have found in the 
legend of Pelops, and the inauguration of a New Year? We 
may note, in the first place, that the Eating of Children (re/cvo- 
(jiayia) which persistently recurs in the lineage of the house of 
Tantalus, is connected with the succession to the kingdom. 
Thyestes, son of Pelops, in the course of a strife for the kingdom 
with his brother Atreus, is given the flesh of his own children to 
eat.' Zeus, the father of Tantalus, does not indeed eat his son 
Dionysus, but he caused the Dithyrambos to 'enter his male womb' 
and be born again from it. Kronos swallowed Zeus in the form of 

1 Clem. Alex. Cohort, p. 5 = Abel, Orph.frag. 200. 

2 Was the Thunderer present as a visible thunderbolt on a draped throne such 
as those figured above on p. 58? We are reminded of the famous Throne of 
Pelops on the Magnesian mountain-top and the equally famous Sceptre of Pelops 
worshipped at Chaeronea, Paus. ix. 40. 11. 

3 Arnob. adv. nat. v. 19 = Abel, Orph. frag. 196. 

4 Macrob. Somn. Scip. i. 12 = Abel, Orph.frag. 206. 

vn] TeKvo(j)ayi,cu and the Kingdom 249 

a stone and vomited him forth again 1 . Ouranos, father of Kronos, 
hid his children in the earth. The motive in the case of these 
oldest T€/cvo<f)aiylai is the fear of being superseded by the heir to 
the kingdom 2 . This same lineage is also the line of transmission 
of the famous sceptre of Pelops, worshipped at Chaeronea, which 
is probably nothing but the thunderbolt, marking that the holder 
of it for the time being is king over the elements 3 . There was no 
public temple for this sceptre, ' but the man who acts as priest 
keeps the sceptre in his house for the year; and sacrifices are 
offered to it daily, and a table is set beside it covered with all 
sorts of flesh and cakes.' The priest was evidently an annual 
I king,' whose mana was derived from the sceptre. As Pausanias 
says, ' that there is something divine about it is proved by the 
distinction it confers on its owners.' 

The parallelism of these two series of facts — the recurrent 
r€Kvo(j)aylat and the transmission of the sceptre — warrants us in 
connecting the ritual of the Feast of Tantalus with the succession 
to an annual or periodic ' kingdom 4 .' 

These facts suggest that this ritual of New Birth or inaugura- 
tion at the Mountain Feast can be related to our conception of 
'Pelops' as the young Year-God, whose marriage was celebrated in 
the summer. The ritual would be appropriate to a seasonal feast 
of a Kronian (Saturnalian) character, at which the youthful year- 
god, standing for all young and growing things in nature, was 
initiated or inaugurated, as ' King ' for his Year, under the 
form of death and resurrection. 

In the first place, for the Kronian character of the Feast we 
have a curious piece of evidence in the text of Pindar itself. 

1 See above p. 22 for practical identity of the Kpbvov T€Kvo<payia to the av/xcpopal 
OvtffTov as represented in mimetic dance. 

2 See Prof. Gilbert Murray, Anthropology and the Classics, p. 84. 

3 Paus. ix. 40. 11. The transmission of the sceptre remains an important 
motive in the Orphic Theogony. Abel, Orph. frag. 85. 

4 Another trait in Pelops' story which may survive from an initiation ceremony 
is the going down into the sea at night under the open sky to invoke Poseidon 
(01. i. 73). The reason for supposing that this was a piece of ritual is its 
recurrence in the story of another Olympic hero, Iamos, who goes down into the 
Alpheus at night to call on Poseidon and Apollo, and is subsequently inaugurated 
as seer in charge of the oracle (01. vi. 58). Pythagoras, when initiated by the 
Idaean Daktyls, before being purified by the thunderstone, ' lay stretched out on his 
face by the sea at dawn, and at night by a river''; see above, p. 57. This ritual 
contact with water must have been as essential as contact with fire (thunder) : the 
mana of both elements was needed by the king of thunder and of rain. 

250 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

At line 48 of the First Olympian, Pindar describes the cutting 
up, boiling, and eating of Pelops. He says this shocking incident 
was invented by the envious neighbours, who secretly spread the 

that into bubbling water boiling with fire they had cut him limb by limb 
with a knife, 

Tpcnre^ciMTi r afi(p\ devrara icpecbv 

ae6ev dieSaaavro kol (payov. 

Such is the reading of our MSS. But what sense can be made 
of it ? Why should Pindar say they distributed and ate the last 
morsels of the flesh (if we take Sevrara icpewv together), when 
legend said that only one morsel — the shoulder — was eaten? Or 
(taking d/a<pl Sevrara together 1 ), that they ate of the flesh at the 
end of the feast, whereas flesh was usually served first ? Why, 
again, are the tables mentioned at all? We shall not discuss the 
various editorial emendations, because we believe that the true 
reading and interpretation are preserved by Athenaeus 2 . 

The text of Pindar used by Athenaeus read not dpcpl Sevrara 
but dfufri hevrepa. This is certain from the interpretation put 
upon the passage by Athenaeus, which turns on this very word ; 
for he quotes the lines as proof that ' among the ancients much 
care and expense were lavished on the " second course " {Sevrepai 
rpdrre^ai,)! It appears, then, that for some reason Pindar wished 
to mention the ' second tables ' — dessert, in fact — and to avoid the 
banality of the actual phrase Sevrepai rpdrre^ai, he introduced 
both words in a different construction — rpa-rre^aiat r, dp.(pi 
Sevrepa, ' and at the tables, at the second (course), they divided 
and ate of thy flesh 3 .' 

But what is the point of mentioning that Pelops was served 
up at dessert ? Athenaeus again supplies the answer. He is 
reporting a dinner-party conversation, occasioned by the appearance 
at table of the Sevrepai rpdire^at 4 . 

1 Schroder (1908) prints dp.(pl devrara between commas. 

2 Athen. xiv. 641 C on yap riaav /ecu rrapa rots dpx a '°' J al Sevrepai rpatre^at. 
Tro\vre\Qs p.ep:epip.i>7)ueva(., Trapiarijcriv Uiv5apos ev 'Q\vp.Trt.oviKais wepi rfjs JleXoiros 
Kpeovpyias dir/yovfj.ei'os ' rpawe^aiui r d/xcpi Sevrepa (a/j.<pL8evpa A. corr. Schweigh.) 
KpeQv K.T.X. 

3 The wrong correction of Sevrepa to devrara was inevitable ; the converse 
error, except as a sheer blunder, is inconceivable. 

4 Athen. xiv. 639 b irepL-qvexdw- v VM*" K °- L <*' Sevrepai KaXov/j.evai rpdn-efcu, iroX- 
Xclkls rjfjuv oiddfievat oil fiovov rats rQ>v Kpoviwv riixlpais, iv als Ywp.aiwv \iraio~iv (YPuipiaiois 
irarpiov eariv) earidv rovs oineras, avrovs rds rwv oinerQiv dvaSexofJ-tvovs Xeirovpylas. 

HjXXtjvikov Se rovro rb £8os... . 

fll] The Sevrepcu TpaTT^ac 251 

When Masurius had finished speaking, the 'second tables,' as they are 
:alled, were handed round. These are often served, not only on the days of 
he festival of Kronos, on which it is the Roman custom 1 to feast the slaves, 
he masters themselves undertaking for the nonce the office of servants. The 
mstom is also Greek. Thus a similar practice prevails in Crete at the 
lermaia : the slaves are feasted and make merry, while their masters 
terform the menial offices. 

He goes on to mention similar festivals at which this 
5aturnalian custom was observed — the Babylonian Sakaea, at 
phich a slave was dressed as king; the Thessalian Peloria 
inhere the sacrifice to Zeus Pelorios was attended by the dressing 
f tables with a splendid feast to which slaves were admitted and 
erved by their masters, including the king himself 2 . 

The vegetables, fruits, and cakes served at the ' second tables ' 
rere especially associated with the supposed simplicity of the 
Jolden Age of Kronos, and so were characteristic of Kronian or 
5aturnalian feasts 3 . So this phrase rpaTre^acal r dfj,<f>l Sevrepa 
onfirms our suggestion that the Feast of Tantalus was Kronian 
ti character 4 . 

1 Lydus de mens. in. 22 (March 1) oti Se -Ka.Tpi.ov dpxhv eviavrov tov Mdpriov oi 
'toyucuo: ivapfKafiov , 5t}\ov ko.1 &Trb tov rds . . .Mar pwvas , rovriari rds evyevLSas, Toiis 
Ik4to.s eartdv, naddirep ev tois Kpoviois tovtI irpdrreiv 'idos r\v tois 8ov\ovs Kenr-qixivoLS 
it. iv. 42). 

2 Another of Athenaeus' instances is the following from Euripides, Cretan 
Vomen, frag. 467 N. : 

t'l yap irodel Tpairefa ; ry 5' ov /3pideTai ; 

■jrXrjprjs fitv b\puiv ttovtLwv, wdpeicri de 

lLba%uv rtpeivai capites dpveia re Sals 

Kal TreTTTa Kal KpoTrjTa ttjs ^ovdoiTTipov 

Tre\dvq> fieXlaaris acpdSvws dedevfiiva. 
This must describe some important banquet; if it was that of Thyestes, who 
ras a character in the play (Schol. ad Ar. Ach. 433), we should again have the 
eijTepai Tpaire'^ai connected with a Tewocpayla. Athenaeus also quotes the 
'pocpuviov KaT<x/3a<ns of Dikaiarchos, r/ ye ttjv iroWijv oawavrjv iv tois 8eiirvoi.s 
apexovaa BevT^pa rpdire^a wpoaeyiveTo— an instance which may be significant for 
s, since tbe Trophoniads are equated with the Idaean Daktyls and Korybants. 
'hit. fac. in orb. lun. xxx., J. E. Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 579, and infra, 
hapter xi. 

3 They were also called the Horn of Amaltheia, Athen. xiv. 643 a. See above, 
. 186. Compare Plato's description of the vegetarian diet of the City of Pigs (Rep. 
72). His citizens lie on leaves, reeds, bryony and myrtle boughs as the Idaean 
Louretes at Olympia lie on leaves of the wild olive (Paus. v. 7. 7). 

4 Mr Cook draws my attention to the importance in this connection of the 
gonistic table. On Athenian coins of Imperial date occurs the type of a sacred 
ible on which are an owl, a wreath, and a bust of Athena, and beneath the table 
de amphora containing presumably the prize oil (Head, Hist. Num. p. 326). 
ome Imperial bronze coins of Delphi (Svoronos, Bull. Corr. Hell. (1896), PI. xxx. 
os. 1 — 8) which clearly refer to the Pythian, as the Athenian to the Panathenaic, 
rames, show on the reverse a table with wreath, fruits, amphora, and perched 
ear them a crow or raven. The bird, like the bust of Athena, indicates the 
resence of the god at the vegetarian dais. Mr Cook holds that this was originally 

252 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

The Kronian Festival of the Basilai. 

We are now, perhaps, in a position to identify this mountain 
Feast with an actual New Year's Festival observed throughout 
historic antiquity at Olympia — the only Olympic festival we know 
which was held on the top of a mountain. 

Immediately before his description of the shrine of the Mother 
and child Sosipolis, Pausanias tells us that on the top of the 
mountain of Kronos, ' the Basilai, as they are called, sacrifice to 
Kronos at the spring equinox, in the Elean month Elaphios 1 .' 

With this festival Dr Frazer 2 compares a feast 'not only 
observed by the Parsis in India and elsewhere, but common to 
Persians, Arabs, and Turks, it being the day fixed for the 
computation of the incoming solar year. It corresponds with 
the vernal equinox and falls about the third week in March. It 
is called Jamshedi Naoroz, and strictly speaking is " New Year's 
Day," but in India it is simply a day of rejoicing, and is observed 
in honour of a Persian king named Jamshed, who first introduced 
the principles of cultivation, and the proper method of reckoning 
time on the solar system.' We are reminded of Diodorus' 3 state- 
ment that the festivals and sacrifices of Kronos among the Romans 
commemorated how Kronos became king and introduced among 
mankind the civilised manner of life. 

Everything we know of the sacrifice of the Basilai thus fits the 
requirements of the Feast of Tantalus. It is a festival of Kronos ; 
it is held on the top of a mountain ; its date — the vernal equinox — 
is the appropriate time for the inauguration of the Year or Sun 
God under the form of death and resurrection 4 . If we are right in 
seeing a ritual myth in the story of the mountain banquet, and in 

a communion table, at which the victor sat and ate the fruit of the God, later 
degraded into a mere table for prizes. 

1 Paus. vi. 20. 1 eirl be rod tpows (rod Kpoviov) ry Kopv<prj dvovcnv ol Bacri\cu 
Ka\ov/j.evoi tu Kpovip Kara iar}fj.eplav rr\v iv rip rjpi 'E\a0iw fiyvi irapa 'HXeiots. (Cf. 
Dion. H. i. 34.) 

2 Pausanias, Vol. iv. p. 75, quoting A. F. Baillie, Kurrachee (Karachi), past, 
present, and future, Calcutta, 1890, p. 190. 

3 v. 66. 

4 Lydus tells us that Oinomaos, king of Pisa, held the contest of horse-driving 
on the twenty-fourth of March — close to the vernal equinox ; but, in the absence of 
older authority, this statement does not carry much weight. De mens. i. 12 oiVoy 
Se (Qli>6/j.aos) rjv (3aai\ei>s HiaaLcov, r/ye be rbv iinrLKbv dyQva p-yvl Mapriip (hoary 
TerdpT-ri iixf/ovpievov rod 'Wklov. Cf. J. Malalas, Chronogr. 173 — 6. 

m] Festival of the Basilai 253 

upposing that this myth, as part of the Olympian legend of 
rantalus, reflected some local rite, the Kronian festival of the 
Basilai is the only one which meets the needs of the case. 

It is not improbable that this Kronian feast represents a very 
jicient seasonal festival of spring, which became attached to the 
r ernal equinox when the sun and the critical dates of his annual 
ourse became important. In discussing Salmoneus, we connected 
ds attribute of the slipped fetter (p. 223) with the Kronian custom 
»f releasing slaves and prisoners at new year festivals. We saw 
oo that this custom at Rome, which originally belonged to the 
kalends of March, was borrowed by the later Saturnalia of mid- 
winter, and yet retained also at its old date in March. The Attic 
£ronia show an instructive parallel. At Athens the same 
Jaturnalian custom of feasting slaves and releasing prisoners 
/ppears both at the Panathenaea in Hekatombaion — a festival 
apparently superimposed on the older Kronia 1 — and at the spring 
estival of Dionysus, the Anthesteria 2 . 

Proclus 3 , more definitely, records the admission of slaves to the 
sstival at the Pithoigia — the first day (Anthesterion 11) of the 
Anthesteria. This observance is of peculiar interest to us because 
niong the Boeotians, as we know from Plutarch 4 , this day was 
ailed the day of the Good Spirit, the Agathos Daimon. It was 
,lso a day when the souls of the dead were evoked from the 
^rave-jars (pithoi) ; the Opening of the Jars was at once a spring- 
estival of first-fruits — on that day they broached the new wine — 
,nd a temporary release of the spirits of the dead from the prison 
if the grave 5 . 

1 Dem. xxiv. 26 ei50i'$ ry vcrrepaia, Kai ravr' ovtuv Kpovlwv Kai did. ravr' atpetfievris 
rjs (3oii\ris, 5iairpai;a/j.ei'os . . .Kadl'^etrdai vofAoQeras 8ia ^rjcpicrpLaros ewl rjj tuiv Havadrjvaluu 
■pocpaaei. Plut. vit. Thes. 12 KpovLov ixyvos, 5v vvv 'EKaTO/x^aLQva KaXovot. Schol. 
d Dein. in. p. 29 fjv 'EKaTO/ABaiwit 6 ko! Kpovios irap' "EWyo-i. 

Macrobius, Sat. 1. 10. 22, following Philochorus, records the practice of the 
Lttic Kronia : Philochorus Saturno et Opi primum in Attica statuisse aram 
"ecropem dicit, eosque deos pro Jove Terraque coluisse, instituisseque ut patres 
amiliarum et frugibus et fructibus iam coactis passim cum servis vescerentur. 

2 Dem. xxn. 68 epooT&v el /xdrriu to oeo'/xurripiov ipKodo/xrjdr]. Karcupalrjv av Hyuiye, 
t y' 6 ira.T7]p 6 cos (^x^ T0 avrodev avrats 7re5cus e^opxv ff< ^l xevos Aiovvffluv rrj tro/xTrrj. 
Icbol. ad loc, £0os tjv wapd rols ' AdrjvaLois iv tois Aiovvcriois Kai ev rots Havady)vaioLS 
ous 8e<T/>Tas dcplecrdai rod decr/iov ev eiceivais reus 77/^pcus. 

3 Ad Hes. Op. 366 ev rots iraTplous ecrlv eopri) lii.doi.yia. Kad' rjv ovre olKirijv otire 
■icrdoirbv etpyeiv rrjs aTroXavaews depurov r>v. 

4 Q. Symp. viii. 3. For the Pitboigia see J. E. Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 32 ff. 

5 For the conjunction of the worship of the Good Daimon and the souls of the 
ead see next chapter. 

254 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

When we put these scattered indications together, we con- 
jecture that the Kronian sacrifice of the Basilai at Olympia was 
one of those old spring festivals of the New Year, at which the 
resurrection of life in nature was symbolised in various ways '. 

To resume this part of our argument. We find that the stoiy 
of the eating and resurrection of Pelops at the mountain banquet 
hangs together with the presence at Olympia, both in legend and 
in cult, of the Kouretes, attendant on the Mother and Child. 
Pindar's description preserves a trait which, with the evidence of 
Athenaeus, points to the Kronian character of the rite. On the 
hill of Kronos we know of a festival connected with Kronos, which 
was celebrated at the spring equinox, when the youthful sun comes 
of age. The sacrifice is conducted by priests called Basilai, or 
Kings : and the re/cvocjxiyLai characteristic of the house of Pelops 
are associated with the succession to the kingdom. From these 
indications we conclude that, while the birth of the new Year God 
was celebrated in the cult of the infant Sosipolis, his Easter death 
and resurrection — his initiation or inauguration when he passes 
from childhood to youth — was marked in ritual by the Kronian 
festival of the Basilai in March, and in myth by the death and 
rebirth of the youth Pelops at the mountain banquet of Tantalus. 

In the Third Olympian Pelops is actually called ' Kronios' — 

the very epithet by which the Kouros is invoked in the Cretan 

hymn : — 


Meyierre Kovpe, x a 'P 6 ' P 0l i 

It is to be wished that Pausanias had recorded more details of 
the vernal sacrifice of the Basilai on the hill of Kronos. The title 
Basileus is constantly given to Kronos; at Olympia he seems to 
have been the arch-basileus of a college of Basilai. Possibly some 
light may be thrown upon his obscure figure by the Basileus at 
Priene 2 . 

An inscription has come to light upon the basis of a statue 

1 An Attic spring sacrifice (in Elaphebolion) to Kronos is attested by an 
inscription I. G. 3. 77. 23. "Wissowa in Eoscher, Lex., s.v. Saturnus, col. 438, 
rejects von Prott's view (Leges graec. sacrae, i. 12) that this was borrowed from 

2 H. v. Gartringen, Inschr. v. Priene, 1906, p. 136, No. 186, gives an inscription 
from the base of a bronze statue of the second century b.c. found in situ at the N.W. 
corner of the Agora at the entrance to a temple : Ba<rt\d5i)s nai KaWivlKr; | t6p 

yn] The Basileus 255 

erected to a priest of ' the Basileus and the Kouretes.' Once more 
we encounter the Kouretes, this time with a Basileus at their head. 
Further, we learn from Strabo, that Basileus was the title of 
a ' young man ' of Priene chosen to take charge of the rites. This 
young man is manifestly the human Kouros, — related to his 
Kouretes as the Protokoures is related to the college of Kouretes 
at Ephesus, and (may we not add ?) as the Kronos Basileus at 
Olympia is related to his Basilai. 

The Olympic Games began with a foot-race ' for the kingdom ' ; 
the youth who won the race was the Basileus. What does this 
title mean ? 

The priest at the Laconian Karneia was called Agetes, the 
Leader, and the festival itself, Agetoria 1 . At Argos, Karnos the 
Ram was called Zeus and Hegetor. We are reminded how in 
ancient days the leader of the annual procession might be a holy 
Bull or a Goat, and how at Athens the Kouros in Bull form and 
human form came in procession to the theatre 2 . The young 
man pursued by the Staphylodromoi, with his wreaths and 
beast-disguise, was a ' mumming representative of the daimon, 
who went in procession at the festival 3 .' We have already seen 
the Kouros of the Cretan hymn as Leader of his daimones 
{haLfjLovwv drydo/Aepos). Was the Basileus simply the /3acri-\ev<; — 
' leader of the march ' or ' leader of the step,' that is of the 
dance of the young men 4 ? And is not this dance or march 
nothing but the komos, the procession in which the Olympian victor, 
attended by his friends and hymned with songs of triumph, visited 
the altars of the gods ? We now understand — what otherwise 
seems surprising — the fact, implied by Pindar and explicitly 

avruiv wdrepa. | ' AvoWodupov Hocreidcjviov \ iep-qrevovTa BacrtXe? | /cat KoupT]<ri.i>. Strabo, 
vm. 384 kclI St) irpbs rr\v dvoiav tclvttjv Kadiaraai fia(n.\£a. &u8pa i>eoi> npirjvea tov tCov 
iepQv iTVLp.ekr}<76fi€vov. We owe tbis reference to Mr A. B. Cook. The important 
word fiaaiKia, though found in the mss. and in editions before Kramer, is now 
omitted by editors ! 

1 Hesych. dyrjT-qs' ...ev 8e rots Kapveiois 6 iepup.evos rod (ttjs, mss. corr. Meursius) 
Oeov Kai ij ioprr] 'Ayriropia. See Nilsson, Gr. Feste, p. 121. 

- See supra, p. 209. 3 See supra, p. 234, note 5. 

4 For the derivation of pao-Lkevs see E. W. Fays, Greek BA2I-AETS, in Classical 
Quarterly, v. 1911, p. 117. Prellwitz (Etym. Wbrterb.) suggests: fia.o~i-: altbak- 
trisch jaiti, Haus, Geschlecht, lit. gimtis, natiirl. Geschlecht; e^ady iyew-qd-q, 
Hes. Dann f3acri\eijs, Geschlechtsherr, wie ahd. chiming. 

Paus. vi. 22. Near the grave of the suitors of Hippodameia was a sanctuary of 
Artemis Kordax, so named because the attendants (&Ko\ovdoi) of Pelops, after his 
victory, ra iirivLKia fjyayop irapa rrj dew Tavrr] Kai ihpxwavro iiri.x<l>piov rots irepl tov 
~LLwv\ov Kopdana 6pxw- v - 

256 The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

stated by the Scholiast 1 , that the victor himself led the procession 
and acted as e£ap;^o<? or precentor of the ancient hymn of Archi- 
lochos, which was addressed, not to the victor himself, but to the 
hero who was his mythical prototype, Herakles. 

The Komos or triumphal procession of the victor resembles the 
Ovation described by Lydus 2 as a most venerable festival among 
the Romans. It was held on new year's day (January 1). The 
consul, dressed in white and riding a white horse, led the procession 
up the Capitoline hill. Both the dress and the horse assimilated 
him to Jupiter, whose victory over the Giants symbolised, in 
Lydus' opinion, the victory of the sun over the colds of winter 3 . 

The Victor and the Hero. 

Had we begun this chapter with the statement that the 
triumphal procession, or komos, was the original kernel of the 
Olympic Games, it would have seemed, in the strict sense of the 
word, preposterous. But in view of the facts we have analysed 
and of the previous discussion of the Dithyramb (p. 205), it will 
not perhaps now seem paradoxical to suggest that this procession, 
with its sacrifice and eating of a bull 4 , its hymn to the hero, and 
the concluding feast in the banqueting chamber 5 , was the central 
rite, to which the foot-race of the Kouretes was a mere preliminary. 
The race, whose original purpose was simply to determine who 
should be the greatest Kouros or King of his year, developed by 
successive accretions into the elaborate athletic sports, which in 
later times came to be the central feature of the whole festival. 

1 Pind. 01. ix. 1 to p.ev 'Apx'^X 01 ' M^°* </>^vaev '0\v/j.iria, KaWLviKos 6 rpnrXoos 
Kex^o-Sdbs, apneas Kpdviov Trap' oxdov ay e /moved aai KUfia^ovn <f>l\ot.s ''E^app.oaTip aw 
eraipoLs. Christ, ad loc. Victor vero ipse vice praecentoris (e^dpxov) fungebatur 
sodalibus praeeuntis, id quod Pindarus verbo ayep.ovedaai significavit et scholiasta 
hac adnotatione confirmat : nw/j.d£et. 5e 7rp6s tov tov Aios j3oj/j.oi> 6 viKTjaas fierd tQv 
(piXtjiv, avrbs TTjs yo^s e^Tjyov/xevoi. 

2 De mens. in. 3. 

3 The ancient custom was to exchange gifts (arprjva) of dried figs and laurel 
leaves which were useful for driving away spirits. Ibid. 4 IvOev av ei'77 8&<pvr;, 
e'KTToduv daip.oves — a phrase which recalls the dvpa^e K%>es of the Anthesteria, 
J. E. Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 35. 

4 Schol. ad Pind. 01. v. 7 oi yap vikQvtcs Zdvov iv roh 2£ j3uulo?s. Cf. Nem. vi. 40 
ravpocpovu) TpieTrjpidi (the Isthmia) ; frag. ap. vit. Pind. ex schol. Ambros. (Christ, 
p. c) irevTatT-qph eopra ^ovTrofiwds (the Pythia). That the bull at Olympia was not 
only sacrificed but ' distributed ' to be eaten (dais) appears from Athenaeus 1. 5 e : 
Empedocles, victorious in the chariot race, disapproving as a Pythagorean of flesh- 
eating, made a confectionary bull and dUvetp-e tois et's tt)v iravrjyvpiv airavTqaaaiv. 

5 Paus. v. 15. 12 fart. 5e nai eariardpiov ' HXeiots . . .tovs 8e to. ' OXvpLiria vinuvras 
eaTiQiaiv iv tovtuj tu oIkt)/juiti. 

vn] The Komos 257 

The Komos, which thus sank to be a mere appendage, retained 
even in historic times features which show that the personality of 
the victor was not of primary importance. The elaborate Epinikian 
ode of the Pindaric type was a late institution. The earlier 
victors, like Epharmostos, were content with the threefold ringing 
cry which began, ' Hail, King Herakles 1 .' Even when Pindar 
brought the Ode of Victory to its perfection, the victor had still to 
be satisfied with a personal reference at the beginning and the 
end. The central portion of the typical Epinikion is occupied, not 
with the victor's personality and achievements, but with the deeds 
of his ancestors, those earlier manifestations of the Genius of his 
house (Sal/xcov yeveOXios) who is reimbodied in each successive 
generation. It is the daimon, incarnate for the moment in the 
victor, who in a great number of Pindar's odes, is really the object 
of praise and commemoration. In other odes the myth is devoted 
to the institution or ordinance (Tetf/id?) of the rite itself. This, as 
we shall see (p. 327), is the proper and original topic of the myth 
in a hymn associated with ritual. In the development of the 
Epinikian ode we may perhaps see an analogy to the development 
of the drama, which starts from a ritual dithyramb containing 
an ' aetiological ' myth, and later is infused with a new element of 
saga-history borrowed from epic tradition 2 . In both cases the 
hymn and the ritual myth come first ; the commemoration of 
ancestors is a secondary importation. 

We have spoken of the Olympic victor as the daimon of his 
Year; we have seen him wreathed, and pelted with leaves 3 , 
leading the song and dance of his attendants in the Komos — 
a Kouros at the head of his Kouretes. We have also found him 
conceived as the reincarnation of the daimon of his house — the 
Spirit of his dead ancestors, who, as Pindar 4 says, ' listening with 
such consciousness as the dead may have, hear of his great 
prowess, on which the delicate dew of song is shed, as of a glory 
which is their own and which they share with their son.' Finally, 
we may regard him also as representing the ' local hero,' be he 

1 Pind. 01. ix. 1. Hesych. rerpd/cw/xos • /j.4\os tl gvv 6pxM €L Treironjuipoi' els 
'Hpa/cXia iwivUiov. 

2 See infra, p. 334. 

3 Victors were also pelted with flowers and fruits, Plut. Symp. Qu. vni. 4. 723 c 
Kal bodois Kai \vxvici.v, tviot. 8e /cat p.r)\oi.s kclI poials ffiaWov ws Ka\oh yepalpovres ael 
rovs VLKTjcpdpovs. 

4 Pyth. v. 98 ; cf. 01. vin. 14, Nem. rv. 85. 

H. 17 


The Origin of the Olympic Games [ch. 

Sosipolis, or Herakles 1 , or Pelops. Sosipolis with his cornucopia 
bears traces of his function as Agathos Daimon, giver of the fruits 
of earth. The Idaean Herakles has his olive-branch, or apple- 
bough. Pelops is a figure of saga ; yet his legend shows that he 
slipped into the place of a Year- God, the Sun King of the octennial 


Fig. 62. 

Older than any of these, perhaps, was that nameless Hero, or 
Heroes, whose altar, painted with a leafy branch, of olive or of 
bay, was discovered in a round chamber, identified by Curtius with 
the Gaeum, or sanctuary of Earth, mentioned by Pausanias 2 . The 

1 Milo, the athlete six times victorious at Olympia, led the Krotoniates into 
battle, wearing his Olympic wreaths and tbe lion-skin and club of Herakles, Diod. 
xn. 9. 6. 

2 v. 14. 8. See Frazer on v. 15. 8. No less than twelve coats of plaster were 
stripped off this altar. Almost every one showed the branch ; and on each, as is 
seen in Fig. 62, was inscribed HP1X)P or HPQ02 or, in one case, HPQftX. It may 
be a significant fact that the floor of this round chamber is of earth of a clayey 
texture, quite different from the sandy soil of the Altis, which has clearly been 

vn] The Victor and the Hero 259 

worshippers who painted and repainted this altar did not know 
whether it belonged to one ' hero ' or to many : they inscribed 
it now ' Of the Hero,' now ' Of the Heroes.' Their doubt is 
instructive. The ' Hero ' is not a dead man with a known name 
and history commemorated by funeral games. His title stands 
not for a personality, but for an office, denned by its functions and 
capable of being filled by a series of representatives 1 . At one 
time Sosipolis might be ' the hero ' ; at another Pelops, the 
mythical ancestor of an incoming people ; at another the Idaean 
Herakles or his Dorian homonym. Even as late as Macedonian 
times, a Philip could build a round shrine — the Philippeum — in 
deliberate imitation of the old round chamber with the Hero altar, 
and thus pose as ' the Hero ' of Olympia for the time being 2 . In 
view of these considerations, the establishment of Games and 
' hero-worship ' in honour of historic personages, like Miltiades or 
Brasidas, lends no support to the funeral theory of the origin 
of the Olympic Games. Before any one of these individuals could 
be worshipped as the Hero of a city, the conception of what the 
Hero or Saviour of the City is, must first have been clear 1) 
defined. The title and functions of a Hero are a blank frame, 
which may be filled by a succession of representatives, chosen each 
for his ' year,' or by this or that historic personality, as the changes 
and chances of time and of politics may determine. 

To the analysis of the idea of a Hero the next chapter will be 

brought from Mount Kronios where a similar soil is found. It has been inferred 
that the sanctuary was transferred from the hill, with some of the sacred soil, 
to its present site. Dr Frazer regards this inference as uncertain. 

1 The same holds of the octennial kingship — the office to which the winner 
of the race, according to Dr Frazer's final theory (G. B. 3 , Part m. p. 104), became 
entitled. Dr Frazer speaks of combining this view with the funeral theory by 
supposing that 'the spirits of these divine kings... were worshipped with sacrifices 
at their graves, and were thought to delight in the spectacle of the games which 
reminded them of the laurels which they had themselves won long ago....' But it 
must be clearly pointed out that this is not the funeral theory as advocated by 
Prof. Ridgeway, who will have the whole festival start from the obsequies of one 
individual chief — a historic or quasi-historic personality — whereas Dr Frazer's view 
(rightly, as we think) makes the office and its functions, not any individual holder 
of it and his personal exploits, the central factor. This is an essential point of 
difference between the two theories. 

2 I owe this to Mr Cook, who points out that the Philippeum is built of stone, 
painted to look like brick, because the old chamber in the Gaeum was of brick. 




'Incertus Geniumne loci, famulumne parentis 
Esse putet.' 

In the last two chapters we have examined in some detail 
two great festivals of the Greeks, the spring Dithyramb, which 
according to Aristotle gave birth to the drama, and the Olympic 
Games celebrated every fifth year at or after the summer solstice. 
We have seen that the primary gist of both these festivals was the 
promotion of fertility and that each of them alike gave birth to a 
daimon of fertility who took on various names and shapes. The 
Dithyramb gave birth to the Greatest Kouros whose matured 
form in Crete was that of Father Zeus, but elsewhere he crystal- 
lized as Kouros into the figure of Dionysos. At Olympia, 
starting again from the Kouretes the daimon of fertility took 
various heroic shapes as Oinomaos, as Pelops, and finally again 
bequeathed something of his nature and functions to the Olympic 
Zeus himself. 

We have by this time a fairly clear notion of one element in 
the nature of a daimon. We have seen him to be the product, 
the projection, the representation of collective emotion. Normally 
and naturally he is attended by the group or thiasos that begets 
him, but gradually he attains independent personality. We have 
also seen that in primitive communities this collective emotion 
focuses around and includes food interests and especially food- 
animals and fruit-trees. In consequence of this the daimon is 
conceived in animal and plant-form, as theriomorph or phyto- 
morph. Dionysos is a bull or a goat, or a tree, or rather the 
human Dionysos grows out of the sacrifice of the bull or the 
goat, or out of the sanctification of the tree. 

ch. vin] Daimon and Hero 261 

But in the case of the Dithyramb and still more vividly in 
the case of the Olympic games we have been all along conscious 
of another element as yet not completely analysed, the hero. 
The Dithyramb has to do with the fertility -daimon but the,) 
drama which sprang out of it sets before us not the iradr], the 
sufferings, the life-history of Dionysos, but the iraQr), the life-; 
histories of a host of heroes, of Agamemnon, of Orestes, of/ 
Prometheus, of Herakles, of Hippolytos. Pindar the poet of the 
Games salutes no daimon by name. He asks 1 

'What god, what hero, or what man shall we sing?' 

If then at one stage of their development in both the drama and 
the Olympic games the hero-element was dominant, it is all 
important that we should ask and answer the question, — 'what 
exactly is a hero?' 

The question may seem at the first glance superfluous. A 
hero is surely simple enough. He is just a dead man revered 
in life, honoured with a mild and modified form of divine honours 
after death. We have surely done with difficult and dubious con-/ 
ceptions like ' collective representations.' We have got to facts at 
last, simple, historical facts. All now is plain, concrete, a posteriori. 
'You must not say that "Minos" represents a dynasty; Minos was a 
particular man and Dr Ridgeway can discuss his dates and doings. 
You must not say that Menelaos is a tribal hero ; Menelaos was 
a well-known infantry officer with auburn whiskers 2 .' Let us 
look at facts. It happens that at Athens the record of a 
succession of hero-kings is unusually full and complete ; so to 
Athens let us turn. 

The oldest hero reverenced by Athens was Cecrops. Who ^ 
was Cecrops ? The old Euhemerism knows many things about 
Cecrops. He was the first king of Athens 3 , a native of Egypt, 
who led a colony to Athens about 1556 B.C. He was a typical 
culture hero, he softened and polished the rude manners of the 
inhabitants and, as an earlier Theseus, drew them from their 

1 01. II. 2 riva deov, riv ijpwa, riva 5' dvdpa. Ke\a8r)<rofi.ev ; 

2 See the review of Professor Ridgeway 's Origin of Tragedy in the Times 
Literary Supplement, Jan. 26, 1911. 

3 For the classical sources on which the account current in handbooks is based 
and for monumental evidence see my Myth, and Mon. Ancient Athens, p. xxv. 

262 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

scattered habitations to dwell in twelve small villages. He gave 
them laws and customs and taught them to cultivate the olive. 
He introduced the worship of Zeus Hypatos and forbade the 
sacrifice of living things. 'After a reign of fifty years spent in 
regulating his newly formed kingdom and in polishing the minds 
of his subjects, Cecrops died, leaving three daughters Aglauros, 
Herse and Pandrosos 1 .' But in this unblemished career there is 
one blot, one skeleton in the well -furnished cupboard that even 
the most skilled Euhemerism cannot conceal. Cecrops the hero- 
es king, the author of all these social reforms, Cecrops the humane, 
S the benevolent, has a serpent's tail. 

A serpent's tail is an awkward stumbling-block, but Euhe- 
merism early and late is equal to the occasion. The fact of the 
snake tail may be damaging, but it is symbolic. Cecrops was 
twy-formed (8i<f>vrj<;) because, some said, he knew two languages, 
Greek and Egyptian. Deeper thinkers divined that Cecrops was 
twy-formed, because he instituted marriage, the union of two 
sexes. He was arbitrator at the 'strife' of Athena and Poseidon. 
The women, who exceeded the men by one, voted for Athena, 
and to appease the wrath of Poseidon they were henceforth dis- 
enfranchized 2 and their children were no longer to be called by 
their mother's name. The women's decision came as a shock to 
old Cecrops and he forthwith instituted patriarchal marriage. 
'At Athens,' says Athenaeus 3 , quoting Clearchus the disciple of 
Aristotle : 

'Cecrops was the first to join one woman to one man. Before, connections 
had taken place at random and marriages were in common. Hence as some 
think Cecrops was called "Twy-formed" (8i<fivr)s) since before his time people 
did not know who their fathers were, on account of the number of possible 

Scandal and stumbling-block though it was, the serpent's tail 
was integral and never forgotten. In the Wasps* old Philocleon, 

1 Lempriere, Classical Dictionary, 1827. I quote Lempriere as a typical instance 
of Euhemerism unabashed, but between him and the less picturesque statements in 
later Dictionaries, e.g. Seyffert (1908j, revised by Prof. Nettleship and Dr Sandys, 
there is as regards any real understanding of Cecrops little to choose. 

2 S. Aug. de civit. Dei 18. 9 ...ut nulla ulterius ferrent suffragia, ut nullus nas- 
centium maternum uomen acciperet. 

3 xiii. 2, §§ 555, and Tzetzes, Chil. v. 19. 650. Clearchus like so many of his 
successors misinterpreted the rigid matriarchal system as licence. See my Prole- 
gomena, p. 262. 

4 Ar. Vesp. 438 

cT K^Kpoip riptos aval;, ra 7rpos iroSQv SpaKovrldrj. 


Cecrops as Daimon-Hero 


longing to join his dear dikasts and violently held back by the 
chorus, cries aloud : 

Cecrops, hero, King, O thou who at thy feet art serpent-shaped. 

The scholiast apologizes and explains, but every Athenian knew 
that in his serpent's tail was the true nature and glory of the 

As serpent-tailed the artist of the delightful archaic terra- 
cotta 1 in Fig. 63 shows him to us. Half of him is a decorous 


Fig. 63. 

and civilized statesman. He is bearded, and wears a neat chiton ; 
he holds an olive spray in one human hand, he is thallophoros 2 ; 
with the forefinger of the other he touches his lips to enjoin a 
sacred silence at the birth of a holy child. He stands erect and 
solemn but he has no feet, only a coiling snake's-tail. So he 
appears on many a vase-painting and relief; so Euripides 3 figured 
him at the door of Ion's tent at Delphi : there 

Cecrops with his daughters 
Rolled up his spiral coils, the votive gift 
Of some Athenian. 

1 Berlin Cat. 2537. 

2 See infra, p. 366. 

3 Ion 1163 

kolt elcrodovs 8k KeKpowa dvyareptov ire\as 

(nreipas ovveCKiffcovT , ' AOwvaicov rivbs 

The daughters of Cecrops, unlike their father, are never figured with snakes' tails. 
For female snake-tailed daimones see infra, p. 280, Fig. 71. 


Daimon and Hero 


It is at the birth of Erichthonios, the second great Athenian 
hero, that Cecrops is mostly represented in art, as on the terra- 
cotta in Fig. 63. Gaia herself rises in human shape from the 
earth ; she is a massive figure with long heavy hair. She holds 
the child in her arms, handing him to Athena his foster-mother, 
to whom he stretches out his eager hands. This birth of the 
child from the earth symbolizes, we are told, that the race of 
Erechtheus, the Erechtheidae, ancestors of the Athenians, are 
autochthonous, home-grown; so it does, but it 'symbolizes,' or 
rather we prefer to say represents, something much more. This 
we shall see in the sequel shown in Figs. 64 a and b. 

When the child is born from Earth, Athena his foster-mother 
gives him into the care of the three daughters of Cecrops. 
Strange daughters these for a human king, the Dew-Sisters and 
the bright Spring Water, three reflections as we have seen 1 of 
the maidens of the Hersephoria. They hide the child in a sacred 
cista. Two of the sisters in disobedience open the cista. The 
scene is given in Fig. 64 a from a red-figured pelike 2 . The cista 

Fig. 64. 

stands on piled rocks indicating no doubt the Acropolis. The 
deed is done, the sacred cista is open. Its lid, it should be noted, 
is olive- wreathed. From the cista springs up a human child, 
Athena approaches and the two disobedient sisters 3 hurry away. 

1 Supra, p. 174, note 1. 

2 British Museum Cat. E. 418, and see my Prolegomena, p. 133. 

3 The figures on the reverse are actually those of two epheboi, but the vase is 
almost certainly a copy from some drawing in which Herse and Aglauros are 


Erichthonios as Daimon-Hero 


They have cause for haste, cause more imminent than a guilty 
conscience. The design in Fig. 64 a shows two guardian snakes, 
but rooted to the rocks. The child Erichthonios himself is a 
human child. But the design in Fig. 65 from a cylix by Brygos 1 

Fig. 65. 

tells us another and a more instructive tale. The scene, of 
which only a part is given here, takes place just after the opening 
of the chest. The two terrified sisters are pursued by a huge 
snake, a snake so huge that his tail coils round to the other side 
of the cylix not figured here. He is not one of the guardian 
snakes, he is the actual dweller in the chest. Cecrops is a snake, 
Erichthonios is a snake, the old snake-king is succeeded by a new 

There are no such things as snake-kings. What the myths of 
Cecrops and Erichthonios tell us is that, for some reason or 
another, each and every traditional Athenian king was regarded 
as being also in some sense a snake. How this came to be 
we might never have guessed but for the story of the cista. In 
Dionysiac rites the snake in the cista was a constant factor. A 
whole class of coins of Ephesus known as cistophoroi 2 show us 

1 Frankfort. In the Stadel-Institut ; see W. Klein, Meistersignaturen, p. 179, 
and W iener-Vorlegeblatter, Serie vm. Taf. 2. On the reverse is the sending forth 
of the Eleusiuian 'hero,' Triptolemos, the correlative of Erichthonios. 

2 See Head, Hist. Num. p. 461. For cistae and snakes on coins see L. Anson, 
Numismata Graeca, Part i. Cista xni. 936, where all the known instances are 

266 Daimon and Hero [ CH - 

the sacred cista, its lid half-opened, a snake emerging A 
specimen is given in Fig. 64 b. The cista of the coin and the 
cista of Erichthonios are one and the same; the myth arose 

from a rite. 

The carrying of sacred snakes or the figures of snakes was 
not confined to the worship of Dionysos. It was part of the 
ceremonial both of the Arrephoria and the Thesmophona. The 
scholiast on Lucian> tells us that the Arretophona were the same 
as the Thesmophoria and 

are performed with the same intent concerning the gr °"*J^°gS*^ ^ 
human offspring. In the case of the Arretophona, too, sacred things that 
may notb^named and that are made of cereal paste are earned about i.a 
ZIgTof snakes and of the forms of men* They ^LfZltTZZ 
account of the fertility of the tree, and into the sanctuaries caned tnegaru 
these are cast and also as we have already said, awino,-the ^swrne too >n 
account of their prolific character-in token of the growth of fruit and 
human beings. 

The carrying of snakes is, like the carrying of phalloi and the 
carrying of the life-giving dew, a fertility charm. 

In the -temple of Polias' on the Acropolis there was according 
to Pausanias* besides the image of Athena and the lamp that 
was always burning another sacred thing, a Hermes of wood said 
to be the votive-offering ofCecrops; it was covered from sight by 
branches of myrtle. It has long been conjectured that this 
'Hermes' was ithyphallic and so reverently veiled. But a simpler 
explanation is probably right The 'Hermes' of the o d temple 
was, like the Hermes of Kyllene*. an alSolov possibly snake- 
shaped The covering with myrtle boughs recalls the leafage and 
sprays that so oddly surround the great snake on the Brygos vase, 
they also recall the olive crown on the cista in Fig 64 a. Ihe 
notion of these leaf and branch crowned cistae and Hermae is 
1 not, I think, concealment, it is rather that the image of the 

i Dial. Meretr. n. 1. The scholion is given in full and discussed in my 
Prolegomena, p. 121. „, ,....j. lu . ra A v Sowv axv^ T03V are 

« ^ara H^.^ OTjf^ JS A snake was the 
undoubtedly 0d\Xoi, ci. Septuagint, Is m. 17. . W obabi y a t _ 

totemistic vehicle of reincarnation and only latei, when tne irue 
age was known, identified with the ^<»- KtKporro, elvcu \ey6f,euoy 

form of the snake \ite-daimon. 

viii] Ion as Daimon-Hero 267 

life-daimon should be brought into magical contact with the;? 
vegetation he is to revivify. 

Once we realise that the traditional kings of Athens were , 
conceived of as snake-daimons, the 'household-snake' (ol/covp6<i 
6(f)i<;) of the Acropolis became instantly clear. Herodotus 1 writes 
somewhat sceptically : 

the Athenians say that they have a great snake which lives in the sanctuary 
as the guardian of the Acropolis. They both say this and as if it were really 
existing they place monthly offerings before it and the monthly offering is a 
honey-cake. And always before, the honey-cake was consumed, but then 
(at the Persian invasion) untouched. And when the priestess announced 
this the Athenians deserted the city the more readily because the goddess 
herself had forsaken the Acropolis. 

In the days of the old month-year the goddess herself was a 
snake. When she took human form the snake became her 
'attribute'; it was the 'symbol of wisdom.' When Pausanias 2 
saw the great image of Athena in the Parthenon he noted ' at 
her feet lies a shield and near the shield is a serpent.' Who 
was the serpent ? Pausanias hits the mark, if but tentatively, 
'it may be Erichthonios' ; it is he — the lord and the luck of the 

Before we leave the Athenian kings one point remains to be 
noted. They are snakes or at least take on the form of snakes, 
but they are also 'eponymous heroes.' Cecrops 'gives his name' 
to the Cecropidae, Erechtheus to the Erechtheidae. After what 
has been said 3 about the Kouros and the Kouroi, Bacchos and 
the Bacchoi, it is scarcely necessary to point out that the reverse 
is the case : an 'eponymous hero' never 'gives' his name, he always 
receives it. Cecrops is the projection of the Cecropidae, Erech- 
theus of the Erechtheidae ; neither is a real actual man, only an 
ancestor invented to express the unity of a group. 

This comes out very clearly in the case of Ion the ' eponymous 
hero ' of the Ionians. When we have said ' eponymous hero ' we 
have exhausted the content of Ion. Save for his birth and child- 
hood, which Euripides makes alive, Ion is for us a shadow-figure. 
He is not robust and living like old Cecrops. He never appears 
as a snake ; the Ionians whom he represented had passed beyond 

1 viii. 41. 2 i. 24. 7. 3 Supra, p. 48. 

268 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

the stage of snake-daitnons. Moreover when we come to examine 
the birth-story it is but a weak version of the Erichthonios 
myth. Ion takes on the chest and the guardian snakes; thev 
are canonical. Ion is a hero, he must wear a hero's swaddling 
clothes ; as though appropriating the myth he piously recites it 
though for dramatic purposes in question form 1 . 

Ion. And did Athena take the child from Earth 1 

Cre. Yes, to her maiden arms, she did not bear him. 

Ion. And did she give him as the pictures tell us 1 ? 

Cre. To Cecrops' daughters, to be kept not seen. 

Ion. And they methinks opened the goddess' chest I 

Ion, like Cecrops, like Erechtheus, is the /j,eyicrTo<i icovpos of his 
tribe, but, expressing as he does an artificial rather than natura 
group, he is emptied of all vital content. 

To resume, the form taken by the traditional hero and als< 
i the king is unquestionably that of a snake, and the snake is use( 
in phallic ceremonies for the promotion of fertility. But are w< 
justified in calling the snake a 'daimon of fertility' ? 

It is important to be clear on this point. Such a notioi 
contradicts traditional opinion. The snake we are constantly tol< 
is the vehicle of the dead man, the form in which he is apt t( 
appear. The evidence for this death-aspect seems clear an< 
abundant. On tombs and funeral ' hero-reliefs ' the snake i 
constantly present. On the familiar Sparta hero-reliefs 2 a hug 
bearded snake is erect behind the seated heroized pair ; on relief 
of the funeral banquet type 3 a snake appears twined about a tre< 
or drinks from a cup in the reclining ' hero's ' hand. 

It is not hard to see reasons why a snake should be associate* 
1 with a dead man. The snake is an uncanny beast gliding in am 
out of holes in the earth. He may well have been seen hauntinj 
old tombs. It is even possible that, as Plutarch 4 says, the appear 
ance of the spinal cord of a dead man suggested snakes. Nor i 
the association of snake and dead man's soul confined to th 

1 Eur. Ion 269, cf. vv. 21—27. 

2 See Fig. 88 and Prolegomena, p. 327. 

:t A number of these monuments are reproduced op. cit. in Figs. 97—100, 10c 
106, 112, and in connection with tbese the death-aspect of the snake is discussec 
My present view as to the interpretation of these ' hero-reliefs ' will be give 
later, p. 307. 

* Vit. Cleom. 39. 

vni] The Daimon-Snake 269 

Greeks. It is, Dr Frazer 1 says, a common belief among the Zulus ( 
and other Caffre tribes that the dead come to life and revisit their 
old homes in the shape of serpents. Such semi-human serpents 
are treated with great respect and often fed with milk. Among 
the Ba-Ronga 2 the snake is regarded as a sort of incarnation of an 
ancestor and is dreaded though never worshipped. A native 
pursuing a snake that had got into the kitchen of a missionary 
station accidentally set the building on fire. All the neighbours 
exclaimed that the fire was due to the SDake, and the snake was 
the chiko-nembo or ghost of a man who was buried close at hand 
and had come out of the earth to avenge himself. If a dead man 
wants to frighten his wife, he is apt in East Central Africa to 
present himself in the form of a snake. Among the Bahima of 
Eukole 3 , in Uganda, dead chiefs turn into snakes, but dead kings 
into lions. 

If the snake then is the symbol or vehicle of the dead man 
how can he also be a ' daimon of fertility ' ? The two aspects are 
incompatible, even contradictory — death and life are not the 
same, though mysticism constantly seeks to blend them. Which 
then does the snake represent, death or life ? Is he a good 
daimon of life and fertility or an evil daimon of mortality and 
corruption ? 

Fortunately, a story told us by Plutarch 4 leaves us in no doubt 
as to the significance of the snake and its relation to the dead 
man. After Cleomenes of Sparta had fled to Egypt and there 
died by his own orders, Ptolemy, fearing an insurrection, wished to 
dishonour the king's body and ordered it to be impaled and 
hung up. 

A few days after, those who were guarding the impaled body saw a huge 
snake (bpaKovra) wound about the head and hiding the face so that no bird of 
prey should light on it. Thereupon a superstitious fear fell on the king and 
such a dread that it started the women on various purification ceremonies, 
inasmuch as a man had been put to death who was dear to the gods and of 
more t/ian mortal nature. The Alexandrians came thronging to the place 
and saluted Cleomenes as a hero and the child of the gods, till the learned 
men put a stop to it by explaining that as oxen when they putrefy breed bees, 

1 Adonis Attis Osiris 2 , p. 73. 

2 H. Jumod, Les Ba-Ronga, 1898. 

3 J. Eoscoe, The Bahima, Journal of Anthrop. Inst, xxxvu. (1907). 

* Vit. Cleom. xxxix. ...oi iraXouoi fidXtara ruv ^wv rbv dpaKovra roh rjpwcriv 


270 Daimon and Hero [ch. 



The 'men of old time' were content with no such pseudo- 
science They believed, with the pious Alexandrians, not that 
the snake was the sign and result of putrefaction, but that it was 
evidence, clear and indefeasible, that the man was of more than 
mortal nature {Kpeirrovo, t^v <j>6<nv). Cleomenes had been a 
hero in our sense in his life, but no one knew that in the religious 
sense he was a < hero ' till the snake appeared. The snake then is 
the symbol and the vehicle not of mortality but tmmortality- 
of something sacred, something in the vaguer sense divine 

The word xpeirrrmr, better, stronger, used by Plutarch is 
instructive, proves, Hesychius tells us, is a general term for 
heroes and for gods, but not all dead men were Kpeirrove, Inis 
reminds us that the meaning of the word 'hero' is actually not 
'dead man,' but, if we may trust Hesychius*, it means simply 
'powerful,' 'strong,' 'noble,' 'venerable.' 

The snake then stands for life and mana, not for death. In 
the light of the snake as life-dotnum, as ' more than mortal, we 
understand many birth-stories current in antiquity. A snake was 
seen lying outstretched by the side of Olympias, mother of 
Alexander, and Philip from that time on deserted his bride. 
It may have been, Plutarch concludes, from fear of her enchant- 
ments or because 'he dared not violate the sanctity of one 
wedded to a greater than he.' In like fashion, says Pausamas-, 
was Aristomenes the Messenian born, ' for his mother, Nicoteleia 
they say, was visited by a daimon or a god in the likeness of 
a serpent.' The same story was told of Aristodama by the 

'^wfhTve already (p. 148) seen how out of a sacrificed animal, a 
bull or goat, could arise a god. The case however of the snake is 
quite different from that of the food animals. So far as we know, 
the snake was never killed that his mana might be eaten. It is 
well to note that sanctity does not always issue in sacramental 

i Sub voc. vpws- Bvvaros, la X vpos, yevfalos, credos. 

a ™if?; and Dr Frazer ad loc. For other instances of the fatherhood of 
snakes see Adoni* Attis Osiris 3 , p. 70. 

viii] Palingenesia and Totemism 271 

sacrifice. The snake among the Greeks was full of /nana, was ( 
intensely sacred, not because as food he supported life, but 
because he is .himself a \ife-daimon, a spirit of generation, 
even of immortality. But — and this is all important — it is im- / 
mortality of quite a peculiar kind. The individual members of 
the group of the Cecropidae die, man after man, generation after 
generation ; Cecrops, who never lived at all, lives for ever, as 
a snake. He is the hai^wv yevvr)*, the spirit, the genius of the 
race, he stands not for personal immortality in our modern 
sense, not ' for the negation of death, aOavaaia, but for the 
perennial renewal of life through death, for Reincarnation, for 

The word 7ra\i<y<yev€cria, ' birth back again,' speaks for itself. 
It is a much simpler, more primitive thing than we are apt to 
imagine. We think of Reincarnation as belonging to an elaborate 
and somewhat stereotyped mysticism, whether Indian or Pytha- 
gorean. It is associated in our minds with a grotesque system of 
purification for the individual soul. Our common sense and the 
common sense of the normal enlightened Greek rebels against 
such a doctrine, just as we mentally rebel against the totemist's 
claim of kinship with beast and plant. The average Athenian, 
when he was told by Empedokles that he had once been a bird or 
a tree, was probably as much surprised and disgusted as the 
theologian of the last century when it was hinted to him that his 
remoter ancestors were apes. 

Reincarnation is, I venture to think, no mystical doctrine 
propounded by a particular and eccentric sage, nor yet is it 
a chance even if widespread error into which independently in 
various parts of the world men have fallen. Rather it is, I 
believe, a stage in the development of thinking through which 
men naturally and necessarily pass, it is a form of collective or 
group thought, and, as such, it is a usual and almost necessary 
concomitant of totemism. Whether my view in this matter be 
true or false, thus much stands certain, a belief in Reincarnation 
is characteristic of totemistic peoples. It is these simple, deep 
down things that last so long. Reincarnation long held under by 
Nationalism and Olympianism, reemerged to blossom in Orphism, 
and constantly to haunt the imagination of a Pindar and a 

272 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

Plato ; to understand this reincarnation we must go back to our 



'The theory of conception as a reincarnation of the dead,' 
writes Dr Frazer 1 , 

is universally held by all the Central Australian tribes which have been 
investigated by Messrs Spencer and Gillen ; every man, woman and child 
is supposed by them to be a reembodiment of an ancestral spirit. 

Messrs Spencer and Gillen, in the preface to their volume, the 
Northern Tribes of Central Australia, themselves write 2 : 

Perhaps the most interesting result of our work is the demonstration 
of the fact that, in the whole of this wide area, the belief that every living 
member of the tribe is the reincarnation of a spirit ancestor is universal. 
This belief is just as firmly held by the Urabunna people, who count descent 
in the female line, as it is by the Arunta and Warramunga, who count 
descent in the male line. 

And again 3 : 

The natives one and all in these tribes believe that the child is the direct 
result of the entrance into the mother of an ancestral spirit individual. 

How the Central Australian came to believe in reincarnation 
we cannot certainly say, but it is not hard to imagine how such a 
faith might arise. New young emus, new young kangaroos are 
born ; the savage has no notion of creation, no theory of pro- 
creation ; he sees the young kangaroo come from the body of its 
mother, the emu from the emu's egg', the old kangaroos, the old 
emus, are born back again, there has been a 7ra\iy<yevearia. 
His rites of initiation constantly obsess him with the notion of 
re-birth, with a death and resurrection that are of one and the 
same life. These ceremonies may indeed, it has been well 
conjectured' 1 , have for one of their main objects to secure rein- 
carnation. Such rites as circumcision and the knocking out of 
teeth would thus find a new and simpler meaning. Bones and 
sinews decay, but a tooth lasts on and would serve, if carefully 
guarded, as an imperishable bit of the old body, as a focus for 

1 Totemism and Exogamy, i. p. 191. 

2 Northern Tribes, Introd. p. xi. 

3 Northern Tribes, p. 330. 

4 By Dr Frazer, The Magic Art, i. 106. 

vm] Reincarnation of Ancestors 273 

reincarnation, a 'stock of vital energy for the use of the dis- 
embodied spirit after death 1 .' 

It is easy to see how such a belief goes with group-life and 
group-thinking. The individual dies, but, as a matter of actual 
fact, the group goes on, the totem animal is never extinct. This 
totem animal, conceived of as the common life of the tribe, is 
projected as it were into the past, the 'Alcheringa' time, and > 
is there thought of as half man half animal, a figure, if the clan 
be a snake clan, strangely like old Cecrops. When a man dies he 
goes back to his totem. He does not cease to be, but he ceases 
functionally for a time, goes out of sight, by and by to reappear 
as a new tribesman. Generation is not, as Plato 2 reminds us, 
a straight line stretching after death into an interminable remote 
immortality, it is a circle, a kvkXos, always returning upon itself. 
Just such was the 'ancient doctrine ' of which Socrates 3 reminded 
Cebes, which affirmed that ' they who are here go thither and they 
come back here and are born again from the dead.' 

We have seen 4 how in the Intichiuma ceremonies the totem- 
group magically secures the multiplication of the totem. The 
human-emu sheds his blood, dresses and dances as an emu, that 
he may increase and invigorate the supply of bird-emus. If we 
bear in mind that recurrent cycle of human life which is 
Reincarnation, and if we also bear in mind that to the totemist 
the two cycles of life, human and animal or plant, are indissolubly 
linked, then we understand without difficulty what otherwise is 
so strange and disconcerting, the fact that Intichiuma ceremonies 
are commemorative as well as magical. The emu man when he 
dances as an emu commemorates the deeds of his emu ancestor. 
He needs must, because those heroic deeds done in the 'Alcheringa 

1 Dr Frazer, op. cit. p. 96. Mr Cornford calls my attention to the curious notice 
in Lydus (de mens. iv. 40), tovs fxivroi odovras ovk ^x ovTas 4>vo~eus rj irvpi rj xp° p V yovv 
fiaKpiZ KaravaXLcKfadaL KareXipiTravov (ol iraXaiol) iir' clvttjs ttjs wvpds ws to Xoiwbv 
axpyaTovs Trpbs rbv ttjs TtaXi-yy eveaias Xbyov diro(3Xe'TrovTes ' o~<f>68pa yap Kal avrol rbv irepi 
avTr)s irapeMxovTo \byov 5ia rb avdis us e56/cet iraki.yyevriabfjLei'ov dvOpionov /ultj XPV$ UV 
iwl ttjs fxriTp(f)a.s yaarpbs bdovTuiv. 

2 Plat. Phaeti. 72 B d yap fxi} del avTairobiboiri to. 'irepa rots irtpois yi.yv6p.eva. 
wffTrepei kvkXuj wepubvra, d\X evdeid tls etr] 7/ yivecns eK rod eripov fxbvov eis rb 
KaravrtKpv /cat fir] dvaKafMirroi wd\tv ewl rb 'irepov /j.7j8e icap.wi)v ttololto, olcda 6ti, k.t.X. 

3 Plat. Phaed. 70 c waXaibs p.ev oftv iari tis Xbyos, oO p.e/xvriixe6a, ws eialv ivdevbe 
dcpLKbfievai inei, icai TrdXiv ye beupo d<piKvovvTai ko.1 yiyvovrai e/c rG>v redveuruv. 

4 Supra, p. 124. 

H. 18 

274 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

time' are but the projection of his own most vital needs, his need 
of food, his need of offspring. At his great Eniautos- festival he 
enacts his ancestors who are his food-animals and thereby brings 
them back to birth. 

To the Central Australian then it is his ancestor who gives 
him food and offspring and all the wealth he craves. His way of 
thinking is not far from the mind of Pindar. Pindar offends our 
moral sense, even our taste sometimes, because to him, in the 
glory of life, Wealth and Plenitude bulk so large, and still worse, 
as it seems to us, it is inherited wealth which with him seems 
married to virtue — an alliance unknown to Christianity. But his 
view of life, though never quite inspiring, takes on another 
complexion when we see how deep-rooted it is in things primitive. 
Any Central Australian at his Intichiuma ceremonies would have 
felt in his bones the nearness of ttXovtos as well as aperij to the 
Sai/xcov yeveOXto^ 1 . 

Theban Pindar may have borrowed his thought from Boeotian 

Hesiod ; both came of a tenacious stock. Hesiod 2 tells of the men 

\ of the Golden Age, the Alcheringa of the Greek, and how after 

/ a life of endless feast they fell asleep, and Earth hid them, and 

thereupon they became Salfxoves, spirits, watchers over men, 

haunting the land mist-clad, 

Givers of wealth, this kinglv guerdon theirs. 

In life the king is lord of the Eniautos 3 , in death he is the daimon* 

It may still perhaps be felt that, at least with the Greeks, 
this totemistic notion of reincarnation, with its corollary that 
the cycle of man's reincarnation brings with it the renewal 
of animal and plant life, is matter only of poetry and a vague 
philosophy. It is time to enquire whether in actual practice, in 
^definite ritual acts, we have any evidence of the same notion. 

1 Cf. such passages as 01. n. 96, 

6 p.dv itXovtos dperals de5at.5aXiJ.evos, 
and the whole of the fifth Pythian. 

2 Op. 125, 

rjepa io~(rdp.tvoi Travrrj (pOLruivres iw' alav 
ir\ovTo56Tat. ' kqX tovto yepas ^auCKriCov Zoxov. 

3 It is not a little curious that the scholiast on Hesiod, Theog. 112, w$ r d<pevos 
5d(xaavTo, says "A<f>ev6s ion Kvpiws fxev 6 airb eviavTov ttXovtos. 

vni] The Anthesteria 275 

Are the actual dead, as well as the daimones of Hesiod, appealed > 
to as irXovToSorac, as, like the Olympians, SwTrjpes idwv ? Cecrops 
and Erich thonios, we have seen, are connected with ritual snakes, J 
but is the ritual snake connected with the dead ? Neither 
Arrephoria nor Thesmophoria, both ceremonies extremely primi- 
tive and both concerned with fertility, have any word to say of 
ancestors, any hint of a cycle of human reincarnation. We shall 
find what we seek and more even than we expect in the great 
Athenian festival of the blossoming of flowers and the revocation 
of souls, the Anthesteria. 

The Anthesteria. 

The Anthesteria was a three days' festival celebrated from the 
11th to the 13th of Anthesterion, falling therefore at the end of our 
February, when the Greek spring is well begun. The three days 
were called respectively Pithoigia 'Jar-opening,' Choes ' Drinking 
Cups,' Chytroi ' Pots.' Each day had its different form of pot 
or jar and its varying ceremonial, but the whole festival was, 
if we may judge from the names of the several days, essentially 
a Pot-Feast. On the first day, the Pithoigia, the wine-jars were 
opened, on the second the wine was solemnly drunk, on the third 
a pot full of grain and seeds, a, panspermia, was solemnly offered. 

I have elsewhere 1 shown, and my view has, I believe, been 
universally accepted, that beneath the festivities of a Wine- 
Festival to Dionysos there lay a festival of All-Souls, that in 
the spring month of February the Athenians, like "the Romans 
at their Feralia, performed ceremonies for the placation of the 
dead. I was right, I believe, in detecting the All-Souls feast; 
wrong, however, in supposing that it belonged to a different 
and lower religious stratum. This mistake I shall now attempt 
to rectify. I shall try, in the light of the doctrine of reincarnation 
and the Intichiuma ceremonies, to show that the ghost element 
and the fertility element belong to one and the same stratum 
of thought, and are, in fact, mutually interdependent. 

We begin with the Pithoigia. The pithos or great stone jar, 
frequently half buried in the earth, was the main storehouse of 

1 Prolegomena, pp. 32 — 55, to which I must refer for a full statement of sources 
and for the literature of the Anthesteria. 


276 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

the ancients both for food and drink, for grain, for oil, for wine. 
The cellars of the palace of Knossos have disclosed rows of these 
pithoi. I have elsewhere 1 shown that the pithoi are also grave- 
jars, out of which the ghosts of dead men might nutter forth and 
to which they could return as to their homes. But for the 
present it is as storehouses of food and especially wine that the 
pithoi concern us. At the Pithoigia these wine-jars were opened 
for the first time, as the wine made in the autumn would 
then just be drinkable. Proklos on Hesiod 2 tells us that 'the 
festival was an ancestral one, and that it was not allowable to 
prevent either household slaves or hired servants from partaking 
of the wine.' By this time no doubt it was a family rather than 
a gentile festival; anyhow it was collective, of the whole house 3 , 
and it was ancient. It was, Proklos says, 'in honour of Dionysos'; 
he prudently adds 'that is, of his wine.' 

Food and drink, and the desire magically to increase and safe- 
guard food and drink, are earlier than the gods. Plutarch 4 in his 
account of the Pithoigia lets us watch the transit from one to the 
other. He is speaking of the local Theban Pithoigia over which 
his father had presided and at which he had been present as a 

On the eleventh day of the month (Anthesterion) they broached the new- 
wine at Athens, calling the day Pithoigia. And from of old it seems it was 
their custom to offer some of it as a libation before drinking of it, with the 
prayer that the use of the drug might be rendered harmless and beneficial to 
them. But by us (Boeotians) the month is called Prostaterios, and it is our 
custom on the sixth day of the month to sacrifice to the Agathos Daimon and 
then taste the new wine after the West Wind has done blowing. 

And again later 5 he says those who are the first to drink of the 
new wine drink it in Anthesterion after the winter, and we call 
that day by the name of the Agathos Daimon but the Athenians 
call it Pithoigia. 

The nature of the 'sacrifice' is clear. Plutarch uses the 

1 Proleg. p. 43. 

2 Op. 368 ' ApxofJievov Se iridov. 'Ev tols irarpiois twv "EWtjvwv eoprats ereXeiro kclI 
to. dcKoiXta Kai 77 indoiyla els t'lixtjv Aiovucrov, tovt€<tti tov o'lvov clvtov. 

3 Tzetzes ad Hes. Op. 3(i6 says 7/ widoiyia <5£ kolvov -qv <tvhtt6<t(.ov avoi^avTes yap 
tovs irldovs iraai fj.eTe5idovv tov Aiovvaov duiprifiaTOS. 

4 Quaest. Sytnp. ill. 7. 1 ko.1 wa\ai ye (tlis ZoiKev) eiixovro rod oivov irplv rj ttUlv, 
airoaTrevb'ovTes d/3Xa/3^ koi (TUT-qpiov avrois tov <pap/j.a.Kov ttjv XRV " 1 " yeveo-$ai...^KTrj 
0' ivTa/xepov vop.lfeTa.1 dvaavras ayady dai/iovi. yeveadai tov otvov fiera ^4<pvpov. 

5 Quaest. Sytnp. vni. 3. 

viii] The Agathos Daimon, the Plthoigia 277 

word proper to burnt sacrifice (dveiv) 1 , but this is no offering 
to an Olympian, it is simply the solemn pouring out of a 
little of the new wine, that so the whole may be released from 
tabu. This 'sacrifice' of the new wine is, to begin with, made 
to nothing and nobody, but bit by bit a daimon of the act emerges, 
and he is the Agathos Daimon. In what shape and similitude 
shall we find the Agathos Daimon ? Is he a wholly new apparition 
or an old familiar friend ? 

The Agathos Daimon. Classical scholars are apt to remember 
the Good Spirit, the Agathos Daimon or Agathodaimon as he is 
later called, as a vague ' genius ' of some sort invoked at the 
close of banquets when a little pure wine was drunk, or as a late 
abstraction appearing like Agathe Tyche in the preamble of 
decrees. The view I now hope to make clear is that the Agathos 
Daimon is a very primitive fertility-spirit, a conception that long 
preceded any of the Olympians. He is indeed the inchoate 
material out of which, as we shall presently see, more than one 
Olympian is in part made. But for the present we are interested 
in him chiefly as the mask or functional form which each 
individual hero is compelled to wear. 

We have first to ask what shape he assumes. 

The coin in Fig. 66 2 gives us the clearest possible answer. 
Here we have a great coiled snake sur- 
rounded by emblems of fertility, ears of 
corn and the poppyhead with its multitude 
of seeds. The snake's name is clearly in- 
scribed; he is the New Agathos Daimon 
(NEO. ArA®. AAIM.). On the obverse, 
not figured here, is the head of Nero ; it 
is he who claims to be the New Agathos F IG g6. 

Daimon. Cecrops the hero-king was a 

snake, Nero the Emperor is the new snake : it is not as private 
individuals that they claim to be fertility-daimons, it is as 
functionaries. Cecrops the modest old tribal king was content 
to bring fertility to the Cecropidae, Nero as imperialist claims 
to be the 'Good Daimon of the whole habitable world 3 .' 

1 For the use of dveiv as distinguished from evayifav see Prolegomena, p. 53 ff. 

2 Head, Hist. Num. p. 720. 

3 C. I. G. ill. 4699 daifiwv dyados rrjs olKovfievqs. 


Daimon and Hero 


Fig. (57. 

It has long been known of course that the Agathodaimon 
of Hellenistic days was, as it is generally- 
expressed, ' worshipped in the form of a 
snake,' but, because his figure appears on 
late Roman coins of Alexandria and often 
crowned by the Egyptian Shent, it is assumed 
that the snake-form was late or borrowed 
from the East. This is true of course of the 
Shent, false of the snake. We shall find 
abundant evidence of the Agathos Daimon as snake at home in 
Greece. The special value of the Alexandrian coin-types is that 
they so clearly emphasize the fertility-aspect of the snake. In 
Fig. 67 a coin of Nerva 1 , better preserved than the coin of Nero, 
we have the same great fertility-snake, whom but for Nero's coin 
we should not have certainly known to be the Agathos Daimon ; 
he wears the Shent and has ears of corn and somewhat to our 
surprise he holds in his coils a caduceus. 

The snakes are sometimes two in number, a male and female 
genius who later crystallized into the half-human figures of 
Agathos Daimon and Agathe Tyche. A marriage was needed 
magically to compel fertility. In Fig. 68 we have a great 
modius or corn basket placed on the top of an Ionic column. 

Fig. 68. 

Fig. 69. 

In the basket are ears of corn and poppyheads. To either side 
is a snake ; that on the right wears a poppyhead, that on the 
left a Shent. Probably the Shent-we&rer is the royal or male 
snake, the bride being poppy-crowned, an eavth-daimon. On the 
obverse is the head of Hadrian. 

1 The coins in Figs. 67 to 70 are reproduced by kind permission of Dr George 
Macdonald from his Catalogue of Greek Coins in the Hunterian Collection, Vol. in. 
PI. lxxxvi. and lxxxvii. 

viii] Af/athos Daimon in Egypt 279 

The modius marks very clearly the function of the snakes 
as fertility-daimons. The same idea conies out in the manifold 
attributes of the pair in Fig. 69. That they are regarded 
here as male and female is doubtful : rather they are the 
Egyptian and Greek incarnations of the same notion. The 
snake to the right is all Egyptian. He wears the disk and 
plumes and carries in his coils the sistrum as well as a poppy- 
head, he is in fact a uraeus. The snake to the left is partly 
Egyptianized ; he wears the shent, but in his coils is the 
kerykeion of the Greek Hermes. 

It would almost seem as though the kerykeion had like power 
in itself with the snakes, and indeed what 
was it but a staff with a pair of snakes inter- 
twined? On the coin of Claudius in Fig. 70 
we have no snakes but a great winged 
kerykeion, to either side of it ears, of corn, 
the whole tied together in a bunch. Later 
when we come to the ceremonies of the 
Chytroi 1 we shall understand why the kery- 
keion, the 'attribute' of Hermes, had power to compel fertility. 

From these imperial coins with the figure of the AgathoS 
Daimon two points emerge, both of paramount importance./ 
First, as already noted, the sn&ke-daimon is a collective repre- 
sentation : he stands for a king or emperor, a functionary of some 
kind, not a personality. Second, his function is the promotion of 
fertility. The regular adjective attached to the daimon is / 
ay ados, good 2 , and the kind of ' goodness ' one needs in a Daimon 
is in the first instance fertility. 

So much indeed we might have already guessed from the 
name, but it was better to have clear monumental evidence. 
The word dya66s has like Sto? no superlative because it is in 
itself a superlative, meaning something ayav, something very 
much 3 . Later of course it was moralized, but to begin with it 

1 Infra, p. 289. 

2 Menander (Kock 550 ap. Clem. Al. Strom, v. 727) was wiser than he knew 
when he said 

airavTi 8aip.u)v dvdpl aiifXTraplcrTaTai 
tvdvs ■yevon^vu), nvcrrdywyos rod fiiov 
dyadbv kclkov yap Sai/xov ov vo/xitTTeov 
dvai f3Loi> (3\dirT0VTa xPV a " r ° v - 
:i Stephanos, Lex. s.v. 


Daimon and Hero 


just means as with us 'good' in the sense of 'abundant,' a 'good' 
lot, dyadrj SaU 1 a good dinner, dyada it pay fun a, not matters morally 
excellent, but ' good ' circumstances in peaceful days 2 , res secundae. 
We have already 3 seen how in early Hebrew or in Mexican 'good' 
means 'good to eat.' It is over things 'good to eat' that the 
Agathos Daimon has his sway. All this, familiar to the student 
of language, is apt to be forgotten when we come to analyse a 
religious conception like that of the Agathos Daimon, yet is 
essential to its realization. This abundance, this 'muchness' of 
the Agathos Daimon will come out even more clearly when we 
come to his attribute the cornucopia. 

The She?it-cro\vned snakes of Alexandria are late and foreign, 
can we point to earlier and home-grown snake-daimons of 
fertility ? 

On the black-figured cylix 4 in Fig. 71 we find them repre- 
sented in lovely and quite unlooked-for fashion. The scene is a 

Fig. 71. 

1 Horn. II. XXIII. 810 Kai acpiv dalr ayadrjv irapadrjiroixai. 

2 Thucyd. in. 82 b> ixiv yap tlpv^V KaL o.yo.dots wpaytxaaiv. 
:i Supra, p. 139. 

4 In Munich, Alte Pinakothek. First published and discussed by Dr Bohlau, 
Schlangenleibige Nymphen. Philologus, N. F. xi. 1. One half of the vase is re- 
produced and discussed in my Prolegomena, p. 259. See also Delphika in J. H. S. 
xrx. 1899, p. 216. But I did not then ?ee the connection with the Agathos 

vm] Charites and Eumenides with Snakes 281 

vineyard. On the one side, heraldically grouped, are a herd of 
mischievous goats, the enemies of the vine, bent on destruction, 
nibbling at the vines. On the other, as though to mark the 
contrast, under a great spreading vine, are four maiden-snakes. 
Two hold a basket of net or wicker in which the grapes will be 
gathered ; a third holds a great cup for the grape juice, a fourth 
plays gladly on the double flute. 

It might perhaps be rash to name these gentle snake-bodied 
vintage nymphs Agathoi Daimones, though Agathoi Daimones 
they are in form and function. Any Athenian child would have 
known by what name they best loved to be called. Old Cecrops 
would not have blushed to own them for his daughters. The 

YM E Ml z\\H\ 


Fig. 72. 

Charites so early got them wholly human form they might have 
looked askance. Anyhow the snake-maidens are own sisters to 
the three staid matronly women figures on the relief in Fig. 72, 
the Eumenides of Argos 1 , who hold pomegranates in one hand 

1 For the Eumenides and their relation to the Semnae and to the Erinyes see 
Prolegomena, pp. 217 — 256. I have there fully discussed the snake form of the 
angry ghost, the Erinys, pp. 232—237. See Belphika, J. H. S. xix. 1899, p. 230. 

282 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

and in the other snakes — own sisters too to the ancient fertility 
goddesses of the Areopagos, the Semnae. 

The Agathos Daimon was, like the Roman nv/men, what 
Dr Warde Fowler 1 has well called a 'functional spirit with will 
power,' the function being indicated by the adjectival name. As 
such he was, no doubt, to begin with, sex-less. When sex is 
later attributed to him he is — perhaps under the influence of 
patriarchalism — like the Roman genius, always male, a daimon 
of generation, but on the whole he resists complete personalization. 
He gets, it is true, as will be seen, a sort of shadowy mother 
or wife in Agathe Tyche, yet, save for these grape-gathering nymphs 
and the Eumenides of Argos, we should never have known that 
the snake fertihty-daimon took female form. 

The Agathos Daimon appears again with Tyche at Lebadeia in 
Boeotia, associated with the strange and almost grotesquely primi- 
tive ceremonial of the oracle of Trophonios 2 . When a man would 
consult the oracle he first of all had to lodge a fixed number 
of days in a ' certain building ' which was sacred to the Agathos 
Daimon and to Agathe Tyche : when he came back senseless from 
the oracle he was carried to this same house where he recovered 
his wits. I suspect that in that house or building dwelt a holy 
snake, an olicovpbs 6(f)i<. Pausanias saw in the grotto images with 
snakes curled about their sceptres, he did not know whether to 
call them Asklepios and Hygieia or Trophonios and Eileithyia, for 
he adds, ' they think that snakes are as sacred to Trophonios as to 
Asklepios.' The suppliant to the oracle when he went down into the 
dreadful chasm took with him in either hand a honey-cake, surely 
for a snake's appeasement. Behind all these snake-divinities is 
the snake-daimon, the snake himself, male and female 3 . 

Boeotia was assuredly a land of snake-cults. The relief 4 in 
Fig. 73, which is good Attic work of the fourth century B.C., found 
at Eteonos, attests this. A man carrying a cake, probably a 
honey-cake, in his uplifted hand approaches a grotto cave; he leads 
by the hand his little son who hangs back. No wonder, for from 
the grotto rears out his head a huge snake. A good daimon he 
probably is, but somewhat fearsome. 

1 The. Religious Experience of the Roman Peoj)le, 1911, p. 119. 

2 Paus. ix. 39. 3, 5 and 13. See infra, chapter xi. 

3 Infra, pp. 429—436. * 4 Berlin Museum Cat, 724. 

vni] Agathos Daimon and Agathe Tyche 283 

Agathe Tyche we meet again at Elis and with her Agathos 
Daimon, only he bears another and a now thrice familiar name,' 





Fig. I'd. 

Sosipolis 1 . The people of Elis, Pausanias 2 tells us, had a sanctuary 
of Tyche with a colossal image on its colonnade. 

Here too Sosipolis has honours (rifiai) in a small building to the left of 
Tyche. The god is painted in the shape in which he appeared in a dream, 
as a child, dressed in a chlatnys spangled with stars, and in one hand he 
holds the horn of Amaltheia. 

But what has a child in a spangled chlamys holding a cornu- ( 
copia to do with our sn&ke-daimont Much, indeed everything; he ) 
is the ' good ' snake- daimon. We remember 3 that when the child 
was placed in the forefront of the Elean army, he changed into a 
serpent, and fear fell on the Arcadians and they fled. The Eleans 
won a great victory and called the god Sosipolis. 

And where the serpent appeared to go down into the ground after the 
battle, there they made the sanctuary 4 . 

Sosipolis at Olympia, it will be remembered, had like Erech- 
theus and Trophonios the snake's service of the honey-cake. 

The Agathos Daimon and Sosipolis are one and the same, and 
Sosipolis, it will be remembered, is but another name for Zeus 
Soter, Saviour of the city. Now we understand — though this is 
of but trifling interest save as a confirmation — the confusion in 

1 Supra, p. 240, note 4. 
3 Loc. cit., supra, p. 240. 

2 vi. 25. 4. 

4 Paus. vi. 20. 3 and 5. 


Daimon and Hero 


Greek drinking customs of Zeus Soter with the Agathos Daimon. 
Suidas 1 , in his valuable gloss, says : 

The ancients had the custom after dinner of drinking to the Good 
Daimon. They gulped down some unmixed wine and said this was to the 
Good Daimon, but when they were about to separate it was to Zeus the 
Saviour 2 

( The familiar Sosipolis is then in form and function, though 

not in name, an Agathos Dai- 
mon. He is to us especially 
instructive, because he shows the 
transition from snake to animal 
form. Sosipolis changes into a 
snake. It is a safe mythological 
rule that a metamorphosis of this 
kind may always be inverted ; 
the snake takes on the form of a 
human child. Another point to 
be noted is, that at Elis and 
Olympia, when the sn&ke-daimon 
takes on human form, he 3 and 
his female correlative, Tyche or 
Eileithyia, appear in the matri- 
archal relation, as Mother and 

On the relief in Fig. 74 we 
see Agathe Tyche holding a child 
in her arms. The design is 
carved in low relief on a column 
in the Hall of the Mystae of Dionysos recently excavated at 
Melos 4 . Agathe Tyche is clearly here the Good Luck of Melos ; 

1 s.v. 'Ayadov Aai/Movos. "E6os tl^ov ol TraXaioi f^era to Seiirvov irivew ' Ayadov 
Acdfiopos, ewippo(povvTfs a.Kpa.Tov, Kai tovto Xeytiv 'Ayadov Aalfiovos' x co P'f 6cr ^ a ' ^ 
/xiWovTes Aibs Hurijpos. Suidas adds that the secoud day of the month was called 
the day of the Agathos Daimon. The second is one of the few days that are 
not mentioned as either lucky or unlucky by Hesiod in his calendar. 

2 For the whole discussion of the subject of the final libations at a feast to 
Agathos Daimon, Agathe Tyche and Zeus Soter see Athenaeus xv. 47, 48, 692, 693. 
He gives as his authorities Philochoros and Theophrastos, and various poets of the 
Old and Middle Comedy. 

3 The nominal correlative of Tyche is Tychon, a daimon who is but a form of 
Priapus, see Kaibel, Daktyloi Idaioi, in Nachrichten d. k. Gesellschaft d. Wissen- 
schaften zu Gottingen, Phil. -Hist. -Kl. 1901, p. 503. 

* J.H. 8. xviii. 1898, p. 60, Fig. 1, and A. Mitth. xv. 1890, p. 248. For Eirene 
carrying the child Ploutos see my Mythology and Monuments, pp. 65 — 8. 





Agathe Tyche and Cornucopia 


she is the personification or projection, the genius loci. The 
style of the relief is of course late, but it goes back to an, 
earlier prototype and one that to us is instructive. Pausanias 1 
saw at Thebes, near to the observatory of Teiresias, a sanc- 
tuary of Tyche, and she was carrying the child Ploutos. As 
he naively observes : 

It was a clever plan of the artists to put Ploutos in the arms of Tyche 
as his mother or nurse, and Kephisodotos was no less clever ; he made for 
the Athenians the image of Eirene holding Ploutos. 

Tyche at Elis has lost, or never had, her prefix Agathe. When 
the child Ploutos is in her arms the adjective 
is superfluous, he is her 'Wealth,' her 'Good- 
ness.' When the snake-oJatmoft Sosipolis 
takes human form, he holds the ' horn of 
Amaltheia,' the cornucopia. The child and 
the cornucopia of earth's fruits are one 
and the same. That is clear on the vase- 
painting 2 in Fig. 35, where Ge rises from 
the earth, holding in her hands the great 
cornucopia, out of which uprises the child. 
The cornucopia is sometimes explained ■ as 
the ' horn of Amaltheia,' the goat-mother 
who nursed the infant Zeus. Sometimes 
it is the horn of the river-bull Acheloos, 
the great source of fertility 3 . Its symbolism 
is always the same ; fertility, whatever the 
source. But most of all it stands for the 
gathered fruits of the year 4 . There was 
a certain cup, we remember 5 , ' called the Horn of Amaltheia and 
also Eniautos.' 

The relief in Fig. 75 6 may serve to remind us of the snake and 
human forms of the Agathos Daimon. It is the only instance 




Fig. 75. 

known to me where they occur together. The monument was J 
found at Epidauros. It is of Roman date 7 , a votive offering of 

1 ix. 16. 2. ' 2 Supra, p. 167. :i See Prolegomena, p. 435, Fig. 135. 

4 Diodorus iv. 35. 4 6 Trpoaayopcvcrai icipas 'Afia\0elas, iv $ w\o.ttov<tl TrXTJdos 
virapxzt-v Trdarjs dncopivrji wpas, fioTpvwv re Kal firjXwv Kal tuiv a\\uv toiovtwv. 

5 p. 186. 6 Kabbadias, Fouilles d'Epidaure, I. p. 45. 

7 The date is given in the inscription but not the era used. As three eras are 
in use at Epidauros the exact year cannot be fixed. The lettering is of the 
2nd cent. a.d. 


Daimon and Hero 


a certain priest, a Fire-Bearer, by name Tiberius Claudius 
C. Xenokles. The god is represented holding a sceptre in his right 

* hand, a cornucopia in his left. A god we must call him, for the 
dedication is ayadov deov, of the Good God. Near Megalopolis 
Pausanias 1 saw a temple of the Good God; he remarks that 'if 
the gods are givers of good things to men and Zeus is the 
supreme god, it may logically be inferred that the term is applied 

/ to Zeus.' The inference is somewhat rash. As the relief was 
found at Epidaurus the epithet is usually explained as a ' title 
of Asklepios,' but surely the Agathos Theos is only an Olympianized 
form of the old Agathos Daimon. Over his body still crawls the 
snake he once was. We follow the snake. 

The association of mother, snake, child, and the wealth of 
harvest fruits comes out strikingly in the Graeco-Roman relief' 2 in 
Fig. 76. We have purposely kept it to the end because it 

Fig. 76. 

admirably embodies and summarizes the relation of snake, hero 

and daimon. The seated figure is Demeter, and we are tempted 

to call the young boy who brings the fruits to her Triptolemos. 

It is, I think, safer to think of him as the child Ploutos. In Crete 

Hesiod 3 tells us : 

Demeter brought forth Ploutos... and kindly was the birth 
Of him whose way is on the sea and over all the Earth. 
Happy, happy is the mortal who doth meet him as he goes, 
For his hands are full of blessings and his treasure overflows, 

1 vm. 36. 5. 

- Overbeck. Kunst-Mythologie, Atlas Taf. 

3 Theog. 969, schol. ad loc. nai -yap i) Trapoifxla ' nvpuv Kai Kpid&v, w vriiru IWovre.' 

viii] Kychreus the Snake-King 287 

and the scholiast preserves for us the tag : 

Ah for the wheat and barley, child Ploutos. 

The snake behind Demeter is of special interest. In function 
he was of course an Agathos Daimon, but as to his actual name 
people were not so sure. Tradition associated him with the hero 
Kychreus of Salami s. 

'At Salamis,' Pausanias 1 tells us, 'there was a sanctuary of Kychreus. 
It is said that, while the Athenians were engaged in the sea-fight with the 
Medes, a snake appeared among the ships and God announced that this snake 
was the hero Kychreus.' 

To this sanctuary, when Athens and Megara were fighting for 
Salamis, Solon went by night and offered to Periphemos and 
Kychreus sphagia, the sacrifice proper to heroes' 2 . 

Kychreus is, perhaps, a somewhat shadowy figure to many of 
us, but he was in ancient days a hero of high repute. Plutarch 
solemnly argues that the robber Skiron cannot have been such 
a very disreputable villain, as he was son-in-law to Kychreus, who 
had divine honours at Athens. His real home was of course the 
coast country of the bay, opposite Salamis, of Kychreia, whose 
other name was Skiros. Of Kychreia and its clansmen Kychreus 
was eponymous hero, as Cecrops of Cecropia and the Cecropidae. 
Strabo :J knew this, and he tells us, on the authority of Hesiod, 

From Kychreia the snake Kychreides had its name, which Kychreus bred, 
and Eurylochos drove it out because it ravaged the island, but Demeter 
received it into Eleusis, and it became her attendant. 

Others said that Kychreus himself was surnamed Serpent 

All this aetiology is transparent. There was at Kychreia or 
Salamis, as at Athens, a local ' household ' snake (oi/covpo<; oc^t?). 
With it, as at Athens, was associated the eponymous hero of the 
place. The cult of the snake fell into disrepute, the human form 
of the eponymous hero was preferred. At Eleusis also there was 
behind the figure of Demeter an old local snake ; in the mysteries 

1 i. 36. 1; for the various forms of the Kychreus legend see Dr Frazer, ad loc. 

2 Plut. Vit. Thes. 10 : for sphagia see Prolegomena, pp. 63 — 73. 

" ix. §§ 393 ...vwode^aadaL 5e avrbv ttjv \-qu.rjTpa eis 'EXewnea kcll yepecrdai raur-qs 
afMp'nroKov. The gist of the killing of the snake by the hero or god will be 
considered when we come to the Olympians. 

4 Steph. Byz. s. v. Kvxpeios wdyos. 

288 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

the marriage 1 of Demeter with Zeus, who 'took the form of a 
snake,' was still known, but again the human form of the goddess 
obtains. As in Fig. 76, the snake is well behind her; but he is 
there for all that, and his old fertility functions are shown in the 
fruit-bearing child, Ploutos. The little shrine out of which the 
snake peers is a heroon, but the hero is a functionary -daimon, not 
a historic personality. At Thebes, too, Suidas 2 tells us, ' there is a 
heroon of the Agathos Daimon.' 

We have dwelt at length on the Agathos Daimon because 
without a clear notion of him in his twofold aspect as collective 
representative and as fertility- daimon the ceremonies of the 
Anthesteria lose half their meaning. Later we shall be able to 
demonstrate from monumental evidence that it was the form and 
function of the Agathos Daimon that, not only the mythical kings 
Cecrops and Erechtheus and Kychreus, but also each and every 
local hero put on, and that it was only as and because they assumed 
this guise that they became ' heroes ' and won for themselves 
a cultus. For the present we must return to the Anthesteria. 

The Choes. The first day of the Anthesteria, the Pithoigia, 
we have seen, was given to the 'sacrifice,' that is to libations of 
the new wine to the Agathos Daimon at the broaching of the 
casks. The second day, the Choes or drinking cups, need not long 
detain us 3 . It was the natural sequel of the first. The taboo 
having been removed from the new wine, a revel set in. Each 
man, or at least each householder, was given a Chous, a measure 
of wine : there was a drinking contest (dywv), the exact arrange- 
ments of which are not clear. Each man or boy crowned his cup 
with a garland and brought it to the priestess of the temple of 
Dionysos in the Marshes 4 . 

1 See Prolegomena, p. 535, and see the great snake coiled round Demeter on the 
vase in the Museo delle Terme, p. 547, Fig. 156. 

2 s.v. 'Ayadov Aa.ifj.ovos . . .Kai iv Q-q^ais 5e rjv 'Hpyov 'Ayadov Aaitiovos. 

'■' Most authorities have held that the marriage of the Queen Archon to Diouysos 
took place on the day of the Choes. But Dr Frazer (The Magic Art i. p. 137) says that 
the assumption rests on insufficient evidence ; he conjectures that it may have taken 
place in the month Gamelion. The ceremony was of cardinal importance as a 
fertility charm, but because of the uncertainty of date I omit all discussion of it in 
relation to the Anthesteria. 

4 For sources see the Lexica and Dr Martin Nilsson's Studia de Dionysiis 
Atticis, 1900. 

vm] The Choes and the Chytroi 289 

The main fact that concerns us as to the Choes is that, spite 
of the revel and the wine-drinking and the flower-wreathed 
cups, the day of the Choes was nefastus. Photius 1 tells us it 
was a ' day of pollution,' in which they believed that the spirits 
of the dead rose up : by way of precaution against these spirits 
from early dawn the}' chewed buckthorn, a plant of purgative 
properties, and they anointed their doors with pitch. A new 
element is here introduced ; there are ghosts about and they 
are feared. 

The Chytroi. This coming and going of the ghosts about the 
city at the Anthesteria is clearly evidenced by the concluding 
ritual of the third day, the Chytroi. The Greeks, Zenodotus 2 tells 
us, had a proverbial expression said ' of those who on all 
occasions demand a repetition of favours received.' It was as 
follows : 

Out of the doors ! ye Keres ; it is no longer Anthesteria. 

And it was spoken, Suidas 3 said, 

inasmuch as there were ghosts going about the city at the Anthesteria. 

Year by year, in ever returning cycle as the Anthesteria came 
round, the ghosts were let loose at the Pithoigia. For three days 
they fluttered through the city, filling men's hearts with nameless 
dread, causing them to chew buckthorn and anoint their doors 
with pitch and close their sanctuaries ; then, on the third day, by 
solemn mandate, they were bidden to depart. 

Before we come to the reason of their uprising two points 
must be noted. First, the ghosts are many, a fluttering crowd ; ,■ 
they are collective, addressed in the plural ; it is not an individual 
ancestor of great fame and name who rises from the dead, but 
ancestors. Second, they are feared as well as reverenced. The,-' 
name Keres, applied to them, is not the equivalent of -tyvyai 

1 s.v. /xiapa 7]fj.tpa- ev rot's Xovoiv ' A.vQt<jT7}piwvos fi7ju6s, iv ip 5okovctii> ai \j/v\al twv 
TeXevTrjaavTUji' dviivai, pdfxvwv 'iwdtv efiacyuvTO ko.1 ttIttti ras Ovpas %XP l0V - 

2 Cent. Paroim. s.v. Ei'pTjrat 5i 77 Trapoifiia eiri rwu ra aura eTri^rovvTcov iravroTe 
\ap.(3dveii>. The use of the proverb seems to emphasize the insistent, periodic 
return of tlie ghosts. 

8 s.v. Oupa£e 

dupafe KTJpes, ovk Iti 'Avdfffrrjpia. 
ii)5 Kara tt\v wokiv rots ' AvdearrjpLois twp \pvx&v irepiepxop-ti'wv. 

H. 19 

290 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

souls'; 'ghosts' is perhaps as close a translation as we can get, for 
the word carries with it a sense of dread. The word Keres is 
obscure in origin and its career is a downward one, tending always 
I towards evil, disease and death 1 . Among the Greeks, as, it would 
seem, among many primitive peoples, the fear of the dead seems to 
precede their worship 2 . The 'feare of things invisible' is, as we 
have already seen 3 , in part 'the naturall seed of Religion.' 

This fear of ghosts is natural enough and needs no emphasis. 
It is not indeed at first a disembodied soul that is dreaded, but 
rather the whole condition of death, which involves the immediate 
family and often the whole tribe in a state of contagious infection. 
But, to totemistic thinkers, the fear is always mixed with a sure 
and certain hope, the hope of re incarnation. Once the body 
fairly decayed and the death ceremonies complete, the dead man 
is free to go back to his totem ancestors and begin again the 
cycle of life as a new tribesman or a totem animal. This is 
} often clearly indicated by funeral rites 4 . Thus among the Bororo, 
the dead man is trimmed up with feathers of the parroquet, in 
order that he may take the form of the parroquet totem. Till 
the second funeral is over, the dead man among the Hindoos is a 
preta, that is a fearful revenant : after that he can enter the world 
of Pitaras or fathers, the equivalents of the Alcheringa totem- 
ancestors. For this entry, rites of initiation, rites de passage, are 

This double nature of the Greek attitude towards the dead is 
very simply and clearly expressed in the vase-painting in Fig. 77. 
The design comes from an archaic vase 5 of the 'prothesis' type, a 
vase used in funeral ceremonies and decorated with funeral subjects. 
Two mourners stand in attitudes of grief on either side of a 

1 I have discussed the development and degradation of the idea of the Keres 
fully in Prolegomena, chapter v. 

- This was very fully exemplified by Dr Frazer in a series of lectures delivered 
at Trinity College during the Lent and May terms of 1911 on the 'Fear and Worship 
of the Dead. ' 

3 Supra, p. 61. 

4 The social attitude of savages towards death as expressed in funeral rites has 
been very ably and fully analysed by R. Hertz, Representation collective de. la 
Mori, in Annee Sociologique, x. 1905-6, p. 48. 

5 In the Museum at Athens, see J. H. S. xix. 1899, p. 219, tig. i. In discussing 
this vase before (Prolegomena, p. 235) I made the mistake of saying 'Snake and, 
eidolon are but two ways of saying the same thing.' I now realize that the two 
forms express ideas of widely different, almost contradictory import. The ghosts 
of dead men constantly pass over into the good daimon, the collective ancestor, but 
the ideas are disparate. 


The Chytroi and the Panspermia 


grave-mound, itself surmounted by a tall vase. Within the grave- 
mound the vase-painter has drawn 
what he believes to be there, two 
things — in the upper part of the 
mound a crowd of little fluttering 
Keres, and below the single figure 
of a snake. The Keres are figured 
as what the Greeks called eidcoXa, 
little images, shrunken men, only 
winged. They represent the shadow 
soul, stren^ thless and vain ; but the 
8vfj,('<i of the man, his strength, his 
l ife, hi s_^ei/o<?,lris mana, has'passed 
into the daimon of Iife_ and Tein- 
carnation, the snake. An elSwXov, 
a n~Tmage7tn formed by 6vfi,6<; makes 
up something approximately not 
unlike that complex, psychological conception, our modern ' im- 
mortal soul.' 

Fig. 77. 

The central ceremony of the Chytroi, the ceremony that gave 
its name to the day, still remains, and it will bring indefeasible 
evidence to show that the focus of attention at the Anthesteria 


was not on death, not on the e'lhwXov, but on the #u/zo<?, not on 
the ' strengthless heads of the dead' but on life through death, 
on reincarnation, on the \ik-daimon. This central ceremony was , 
the boiling but — significantly — not the eating of a pot (%vTpo<; or 
Xvrpa) of all kinds of seeds, a panspermia. The scholiast on the 
Frogs* in commenting on the words 'with the holy Pots' says 
expressly, quoting Theopompos, 

And of the pot which all the citizens cook, no priest tastes. 

And again the scholiast on the Acharnians-, also quoting Theo- 
pompos, says 

they cooked pots of panspermia whence the feast got its name, but of the 
pot no one tasted. 

1 Ad Ar. Ran. 218 koX tt)s x^' T P as V" tyovai iravTes oi Kara ttjv iro\iv ovdds yei'erai 
Twf Upeoiv. The reading Upewv is uncertain. 

2 Ad Ar. Ach. 1076 Xurpovs- Qeoiro/xTros tovs diacrwdevras eK rod (cara/cXi/ff/UoO 
eif/rjcrai <pr)<5L xi'Tpas irapcnrepuias odev ovtw K\y)d9)vai. ttjv eopr-qv . . .ttjs 5^ x^ T P as ovbeva 


292 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

The panspermia has not, I think, been rightly understood. In 
commenting on it before 1 , misled by the gift-theory of sacrifice, 
I took it to be merely a 'supper for the souls.' No doubt as 
such it was in later days regarded, when primitive magical rites 
had to be explained on Olympian principles. But it was, to begin 
with, much more. The ghosts had other work to do than to eat 
their supper and go. They took that 'supper,' that panspermia,, 
with them down to the world below and brought it back in the 
autumn a pankarpia. The dead are Chthonioi, ' earth-people,' 
Demetreioi, ' Demeter's people 2 ,' and they do Demeter's work, her 
work and that of Kore the Maiden, with her Kathodos and Anodos :! . 
An Athenian at the Anthesteria would never have needed S. Paul's 4 
angry objurgation : 

Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die : and 
that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare 
grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain. 

It is sown a panspermia, it is reaped a pankarpia. 

The lexica regularly define panspermia and pankarpia by 
each other, and they are right, for fruit is seed, but a distinction 
must be observed. The living and the dead seem to have as it 
were a sort of counter-claim on the fruits of the earth. The live 
man wants the fruits of the earth that he may eat them and so 
live ; the dead man wants them as seed that he may take it with 
him down below and tend it and give it a 'body' and send it 
back, bring it back as fruit. The autumn is the living man's 
great time. Then he takes most of the fruit and grain, eats 
it and stores it for himself, but even then he saves a little for the 
dead, offering them ar.apyai, because only so can his seed grow 
and prosper. The spring, the Anthesteria, is the dead man's 
time, for the seeds belong mainly to him. It is this cycle that 
haunted the mind of Aeschylus 5 , only he abstracts it somewhat, 

1 Prolegomena, p. 37. If my present theory, suggested to me in part by Mr 
Cornforrl, be right, the cooking of the panspermia must be a late invention added 
when it came to be regarded as a food. 

2 Plut. de facie in orb. lunae 28 koX roiis vtKpovs 'AOyvaioi. ArjurjTpeiovi divofxafov to 

3 For the dpibneva of the Kathodos and Anodos see Prolegomena, p. 123, and for 
the Anodos of the Maiden, p. 276. See also infra, chapter ix. 

4 1 Cor. xv. 20 ff. 

5 Choeph. 127 

xai yaiav ai/TTjv, r/ to. iravra TtKTtTat 

6pi\paaa. r aiitiis Ttovde KvpLa Xanftavei 

and Dr Verrall ad loc. For the whole symbolism and for the Eoman custom of 

vm] Kernophoria and Pankarpia 293 

making it of Earth the Mother rather than of dead men and 
seeds : 

Yea summon Earth, who brings all things to life 

And rears and takes again into her womb. 

It is this cycle of reincarnation that makes of the panspermia 
a thing more solemn and significant than any 'supper of the 
souls,' kindly and venerable though that notion be. 

The panspermia and pankarpia appear in many forms and 

under other names, as Kernophoria, as Liknophoria, as Thargelia. 

The Thargelia are of the first harvest in June. Hesychius 1 defines 

thargelos as a 'pot full of seeds.' A Liknophoria, the carrying of a 

winnowing-basket full of fruits, to which often on monuments a 

phallos is added, might take place at any rite when fertility was 

desired. It was part of the Eleusinian and other mysteries, it was 

practised at marriage ceremonies' 2 . Of the Kernophoria we have 

unusually full particulars. It is specially interesting as showing 

the care taken that in a panspermia each and every form of seed 

should be represented. Athenaeus says of the Kernos: 

A vessel made of earthenware, with many little cups fastened on to it in 
which are white poppies, barley, pulse, ochroi, lentils, and he who carries 
it after the fashion of the carrier of the liknon tastes of these things, as 
Ammonius relates in his third book ' On Altars and Sacrifices.' 

The Kernophoria was in the autumn, living man's time ; he 
tastes of the fruits to get their mana. 

In previously discussing the pankarpia and kindred matters 
I was led astray by Porphyry's charming vegetarianism. He 
quotes again and again such offerings as these as examples of the 
simple life dear to the gods, in the golden days before man tasted 
Mesh food. Thus Sophocles 3 in the lost Polyidos, which must 
have dealt with the primitive rites of Crete, says: 

planting corn on graves, manifestly to secure the magic of the dead, see Prolegomena, 
p. 267. 

1 s.v. OdpyijXos' x^ T P a fO"r'" avaw\ews (TirepfiaTwv. 

2 Both the Kernophoria and the Liknophoria are fully discussed and illustrated 
in my Prolegomena, pp. 160 and 599 and 518 — 535, 549, and a Kernos of which 
many specimens have come to light is there reproduced in Fig. 16 : the scene of the 
Kernophoria appears on the ' Ninniou ' pinax in Fig. 160. 

3 Porphyr. de Abst. n. 19 Kai 1,ocpoKXrjs 5taypa<pwi> rypi Oeo<piXr) Ovaiav <py\<r\v iv rip 
] loXi'iSoj 

y\v ptiv yap oibs fj.a\\6$, i)v de Ka/J-wiXov 
avovdrj re Kai pat ev nQ-r\<javpiap.ivy)' 
iv9jv 5e TrayK&pweia crvpL/j.iyr)s oXats 
Xt7ros t eXalas kcu to iroiKiXdiTarov 
^ovdrjs /xeXiVcrrjs KTjpjwXacrTOv opyavov. 

294 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

Wool of the sheep was there, fruit of the vine, 

Libations and the treasured store of grapes 

And manifold fruits were there, mingled with grain 

And oil of olive and fair, curious combs 

Of wax, compacted by the murmuring bee. 

Following Porphyry, I explained the 2 xln ^ ar P^ a an d the 
panspermia, as simple fare for simple-hearted gods. But its gist 
is really magical, and the rite long preceded any god however 
primitive and gentle, it preceded even the Agathos Daimon. 

The Anthesteria was then a feast of the revocation of souls 
and the blossoming of plants, a feast of the great reincarnation 
cycle of man and nature. One final point of cardinal importance 
remains to be noted— the god in whose honour the panspermia 
was offered. 

Hermes Chthonios as Agathos Daimon. 

The scholiast on the Frogs 1 , already quoted, makes, in com- 
menting on the Chytrci, a second statement of scarcely less interest 
than the first. Not only does 'no one taste of the Pot' but 

They have the custom of sacrificing at this feast, not to any of the 
Olympian gods at all, but to Hermes Chthonios. 

We are thankful to find the Olympians refraining for once; as 
a rule they are only too ready to lay greedy hands on a magical 
rite, pervert its meaning and turn it into a 'gift- sacrifice' for 
themselves. Had Hermes Chthonios been an Olympian we must 
have postponed the consideration of him to the next chapter, but 
Hermes Chthonios, it is expressly said, is no Olympian, he is — it 
is perhaps by now scarcely necessary to state it — our ancient 
friend, the Agathos Daimon. 

Photius- tells us in so many w T ords : 'Hermes a kind of drink — 
as of the good Daimon and Zeus Soter'; but evidence abounds 
more deep-seated than this hitherto enigmatic yet curiously 
explicit gloss. 

It was the Agathos Daimon who presided over the Pithoigia 
^ of the wine-casks ; it is Hermes who with magic rhabdos and 

1 Ad Ar. Ran. 218 ...tivtiv avro'is edos ^x 01 " 71 T ^ v P-*" OeCov ovdevi to irapairav, 'Epfirj 

5i x6° vi( i>- 

2 s.v. "EtpfxrjS woaews etoos ' is dyadov dai/iovos xai Aids cruTrjpos. I owe this 
evidence to Professor Murray. 


Hermes as Agathos Daimon 



with kerykeion summons the souls from the great grave-pithos 
on the Jena lekythos 1 in Fig. 78. It is Hermes always who attends 
Pandora-Anesidora, she of the 
pithos, when she rises from the 
earth. Always he carries his 
kerykeion with the twin twisted 
snakes, that kerykeion which 
we saw gathered in the coils 
of the Agathodaimon on the 
coins of Alexandria 2 , a conjunc- 
tion now easily understood. We 
understand now why Hermes, 
as phallic herm, is god of fer- 
tility of flocks and herds, but 
also, as Psychopompos, god of 
ghosts and the underworld. 
He, a snake to begin with and 
carrying always the snake-staff, 
is the very daimon of reincar- 
nation. Homer, who contrives 
to forget nearly everything of 
any religious interest, cannot quite forget that; only, for death and 
life, he, in his beautiful way, puts sleep and waking. When 
Hermes led the ghosts of the slain suitors to Hades, he held 
in his hand 3 

His rhabdos fair and golden wherewith he lulls to rest 
The eyes of men whoso he will, and others by his hest 
He wakens. 

Under the influence of the epic Hermes is eclipsed ; he was 
never allowed into Olympos save as a half outsider, a messenger ; 
probably, but for the Athenian cult of the Hermae, he could never 
have forced an entrance at all and his functions would have gone 
on being filled by the more pliable, upper-air Iris. Even though 
'expurgated' by Homer, it is curious to note how as 'messenger' 
he is almost omnipresent in popular art and literature in many a 

1 P. Schadow, Eine attische Grablekythos 1897. See also Prolegomena, p. -43. 

2 Supra, p. 278, Fig. 67. 

3 Od. xxiv. 1 — 4 

...7-77 r dvdpQiv oixfxara de\yei 
wv edtXei, tovs 8' avre Kai vTrviJiovras iyeipei. 

Fig. 78. 

296 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

1 situation, as e.g. the Judgment of Paris, where no ' messenger ' is 
really wanted. He was really there from the beginning as daimon 
or 'luck' of the place or the situation, there long before the gods 
who made him their 'messenger 1 .' If he was only a 'messenger, 
why did men cry kolvo's ip^rj^ ' shares in the Luck,' why does 
he always ' lead ' the Charites, even when they are going no- 
whither ? In later literature which bears his name, in the 
Hermetic writings and in the magic papyri, he comes to his own 

In the magic papyri 2 Hermes and the Agathos Daimon are 
sometimes closely associated, sometimes placed in the relation of 
father and son, or teacher and disciple, sometimes actually identi- 
fied. Thus, in one prayer, the Lord Hermes is addressed as ' he 
who brings together food for gods and men,' and he is employed to 

bring about all things for me and guide them by Agathe Tyche and Agathos 
Daimon 3 . 

One of the titles of Hermes is Agathopoios, and it is said of him 

as Agathos Daimon that 

when he shines forth the earth blossoms, and when he laughs the plants 
bear fruit, and at his bidding the herds bring forth young 4 . 

Another prayer runs as follows : 

Give me every grace, all accomplishment, for with thee is the bringer 
of good, the angel standing by the side for Tyche. Therefore give thou 
means and accomplishment to this house, thou who rulest over hope, wealth- 
giving Aion, holy good Daimon. Bring to accomplishment and incline to 
me all the graces and divine utterances 6 . 

It is a grave mistake to think that all this is mere late 
demonology. The magic pap3 r ri contain, it is now acknowledged 

1 It is, I think, possible that the 'messenger' may really be a survival of the 
'representative' or ttpo<tt&tt]s, that is the winner in an agon, the wpuiros KoOpos— 
the individual who stood for the group. When his function was forgotten he might 
easily lapse into the deputy messenger. Mr Cornford draws my attention in this 
connection to the fact noted above (p. 276) that the month Authesterion was in 
Boeotia called IIpoo-Tar^pios. possibly it got its name from a festival of HpoaTarripta. 

- Wessely, Griech. Zauberpapyrus von Loudon und Paris and Neue griecli. 
Zauberpapyri in Denkscbr. d. k. Akad., phil.-hist. xxxvi. Wien, 1888 and xlii. 

3 Hpai;6v noi iravTa. mxi avvpewois avv 'Ayadrj TvxV KaL ' Ayadf Aai/xovt. Reitzenstein, 
Poimandres, p. 21. 

4 dvedaXev rj yrj aov eTriXd/jnpavTos Kai eKapiro(p6pr)o~fv to. <pvra o~ou yeXdaavros, 
e i'lpoyovTjaf to. fya <rov iirLTpetpavros — Reitzenstein, op. cit. p. 29. 

5 56$ fxoi Tratrav xdptc, waaav wpdijtv, fxtTa <rou yap ecrTtv 6<f>6pos ayyeXos 
wapearus TvxV- ^ l0 ^° s irbpov koX irpd^iv tovtui tu) olku> KVptetioov e'\7rt5os irXovTodora 
aiwv, iepe ' Ayafft 8aip.ov • rAet Trdaas xdpiTas Kai t<xs tvdeias < op. cit. p. 29. 
For (popos and wpdt.i% in connection with Hermes cf. Aesch. Choeph. 808 

irah 6 Malas iwti (popciraros 
Trpd^iv oi'piav 6e\wv. 


Zeus Ktesios as Agathos Daimon 


on all hands, very primitive stuff 1 . It is noticeable that when 
Agathe Tyche and Agathos Daimon come together the woman 
figure in matriarchal fashion precedes the male daimon. Indeed 
in the prayer just quoted the ( 
good Daimon is conceived of as 
an angel or messenger standing 
as attendant by the side of 
Tyche. This possibly helps to ex- 
plain the subordinate function of 
Hermes as propulos or attendant 

on the greater gods — it is anyhow 
a mark of early thinking. 

Hermes, as Agathos Daimon, 
was once merely a phallos; that 
he was also once merely a snake, 
is, I think, a safe conjecture. 
But it is merely a conjecture : 
I can point to no actual monu- 
ment where Hermes is figured^ 
as a snake. It is otherwise 
with another and a greater 
than Hermes, in whose form the 
Agathos Daimon chose to mas- 
querade — Zeus. 

Zeus Ktesios as Agathos 

Of singular interest is the 
relief in Fig. 79 found at Thespiae 
m Boeotia and now in the local 
museum at Thebes 2 . It dates 
ibout the 3rd century B.C. and 
is clearly inscribed Ato? Kttjctlov, 'Zeus' 
ate it 


we might perhaps trans- 
'of household property,' Zeus, not so much of fertility as 

1 Reitzenstein, op. cit. p. 28, 129, and R. Foerster, Hermes in einer Doppelhe mu- 
ms Cypern. Jahrbuch d. Inst. 1904, p. 140. 'In diesen Gebeten und Anrufungen 
lurfen wir nicht so wohl Ergebnisse philosopbischer Spekulation als Ausserungen 
virklichen Volksglaubens erwarten/ 

- Inv. No. 330. I owe to the kindness of Dr M. P. Nilsson a photograph of this 
nteresting monument which he has published and fully discussed in the Ath. 
tfittheilungen, xxxni. 1908, p. 279, Schlangenstele des Zens Ktesios. 


298 Daimon and Hero [en. 

of its stored produce. Ktesios, Epikarpios and Charitodotes are 
titles applied to Zeus in his capacity as the giver of increase 1 . 
To these might be added Ploutos, Olbios, Meilichios, Philios, 
Teleios. All these are daimons of fertility 2 and like the Agathos 
Daimon might naturally be thought of in snake shape. It was 

/ long ago conjectured by Gerhard 3 that Zeus Ktesios was a snake; 

/ the Thespiae relief brings to his view welcome confirmation. 
Snake though he was, to him as to Zeus Olbios (p. 148) a bull was 
sacrificed 4 . 

Zeus Ktesios is not only a snake ; to our great delight we 
find him also well furnished with Pots. He was essentially 
domestic. Harpocration 5 , quoting Hyperides, says 

They used to set up Zeus Ktesios in storerooms. 

In the temple of Zeus at Panamara a votive inscription" was 

To the household gods, Zeus Ktesios and Tyche and Asklepios. 

It is to such primitive duimones of the penetralia that the Chorus 
in the Choephoroi of Aeschylus 7 appeal. It is at the altar of 
Ktesios that Cassandra as chattel of the house is bidden to take 
her place 8 . Homer 9 must in his queer subconscious way be 
thinking of Zeus Ktesios, with perhaps some associations of 
Pandora, when he says 9 , 

Jars twain upon Zeus' threshold ever stood, 
One holds his gifts of evil, one of good. 

1 Plut. Stoic, liepug. 30 6 Zeus yeXo'ios ei Ktjjitios X a 'P €1 Ka ' 'Ettiko/bttios Kai 

Xapiro5oT7;s wpoaayopevdfj.a'os 

- Prolegomena, p. 356. 

3 In his brilliant hut too little read monograph on Agathos Daimon and Bona 
Dea, Akad. Abhandl. 1847, n. 45, Anm. 28. 

4 See the deciee in Dem. 21. 53 Ad ktt)<t'u>} fiovv XevKov. 

5 s.v. KttjctLov Aijs. Twepidris ev rui npos ' AireXXaiov Ktt)o~lov Aia ev rots ra/jueiois 


6 Bull, tie Gorr. Hell. xn. 1888, p. 209, No. 54 Kai rots ivoiKtdiois deoh Ad Krqaiy 
Kai Ti'XV Kai 'A(TK\r;rrtw. 

7 v. 786 
oi' t eaude 8(i3/j.aTii)v 
ir\ovToya6rj /xvxov vo/j-iiere, 
KXvere, crvfji.<ppoves deoi. 

8 Aesch. Ag. 1020 
eirti a edrjKe Zei)s d/XTjWraJS 56/uois 
koivwvov eivat xcpvijiwv, woXXQv fj.era 
doijXwv aradelaav KTrto'iov jHwfiou veXas. 

54 II. xxiv. 527 

ooioi yap re widoi KaraKeiarai ev Aids ovdu 
dtbpuv ota 675 wo- 1 KaKuiv erepos 8e eawv. 


Zeus Ktesios and Ambrosia 299 

it was indeed side by side with Demeter Anesidora at ancient 

[Phlya 1 that Zeus was worshipped, a fitting conjunction. At 

iPhlya were worshipped also Dionysos Anthios and the Semnae, 

ind at Phlya were mysteries of Eros. In the list of divinities 

Demeter Anesidora comes first, as was fitting ; the Earth sends up 

her gifts and then man harvests and stores them for his use. It 

Jjis interesting to find that the actual cult of Zeus Ktesios as well 

[as his name lands us in the storeroom — though to speak of his 

cult' is really a misnomer, as we shall immediately see. 

Athenaeus 2 , quoting Philemon, makes the following statement: 

The Kadiskos is the vessel in which they set up Ktesian Zeuses. 

(He goes on to quote from the Eocegetikon of Antikleides, a post- 
: Alexandrian writer, some ritual prescriptions for the carrying out 
of the 'cult' or rather installation. 

Put the lid on a new two-eared Kadiskos, crown the ears with white wool 
and let do-vn the ends of. ..the thread from the right shoulder and the 
forehead and place in it whatever you can find and pour into it ambrosia. 
INow ambrosia is pure water and olive oil and pankarpia. Pour in these. 

JThe text is corrupt and therefore it is not quite clear how the 
wool or thread was arranged on the vase. The vase with its 
'ears,' 'right shoulder' and 'forehead' reminds us of the anthropoid 
vases of the Troad. 

But it is the ambrosia that delights and amazes us. Why in 
the world should ambrosia be defined as pure water, olive oil, and 
pankarpia ? Why, but because in the pankarpia and the oil and 
the pure living water are the seeds for immortality, for next year's 
reincarnation ? The Olympians took ambrosia for their food, but 
its ancient immortality was of earth's recurrent cycle of growth, 
not of heaven's 3 brazen and sterile immutability. 

Athenaeus 4 has yet another small and pleasant surprise in 

1 For the mysteries at Phlya see Prolegomena, p. 642, and for Eros as Herm and 
his close analogies with Hermes see p. 631. 

2 xi. 46. 478 KadiaKos. 'i'lXrip.wv iu rcjJ irpofiprnmepu) o~vyypdp.fia.Ti iroTrjpiov elSos. 
'Ayyeiov 5' eariv ev iL tovs kt7)<tIovs Aias tyKa6i5pvovo~iv , u>s ' Ai>TiK\eidr)s (prjalv ev Tip 

JZ^TjyriTiKu), ypd(pwv ovtujs ' Atos KT-qaiov o~7)p.eia iopveadai XPV <*>5e. Kadla/cov nawov 
SLuitov eTridrifiarovvTa, arexf/avra to. lira ipLip XtvKtp Kai €K tov u/uloii tov de^iov Kal 
£k tov /jLeTil'irov tov KpoKtov, Kai iadelvaL b tl civ evpys Kai e<xx^ al a.p.fipoaiav. ' H 5' 
dya/3pocria vdup a.Kpai.(pvis, £\aiop, irayKapnia. "Airep lw/3a\e. Kaibel, supplendum fere 
{KadiadaL to. &Kpa) tov upoKiov. 

3 For the Olympian notion of immortality which is the very contradiction of the 
old reincarnation, see infra, chapter x. 

4 loc. cit. EppLTjs, 5e ZXkovo-' oi fiev £k irpoxoiSiov, 

oi 5' £k KabiaKov a icov uro> KeKpa.p.£vov. 

300 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

store for us. ' The comic poet Strattis,' he says, in his Lemnomeda \ 
makes mention of the Kadiskos, thus : 

Hermes, whom some draw from a prochoidion, 
Others, mixed half and half from a Kadiskos. 

By the help of the Agathos Daimon we understand the comic 
■^ poet Strattis. Hermes is the daimon of ambrosia and of im- 

Zeus Ktesios then like Hermes is simply a daimon of fertility, 
taking snake form — he was not yet a theos. His aspect as Ktesios 
embarrassed the orthodox theologian and delighted the mystic and 
the monotheist. It is pleasant to find 1 that even when translated 
to the uttermost heavens he did not disdain the primitive service 
of the pankarpia. 

Ruler of all, to thee I bring libation 

And honey-cake, by whatso appellation 

Thou wouldst be called, or Zens, or Hades thou 

A tireless offering I bear thee now 

Of all earth's fruit, take Thou its plenitude. 

For thon amongst the Heavenly Ones art god, 

Dost share Zeus' sceptre, and art ruling found 

"With Hades in the kingdoms underground. 

Zeus Ktesios was to the Greeks a house-snake, with a service 
of storehouse jars for his chief sanctity. That acute observer 
of analogies between Greek and Roman religion, Denys of 
Halicarnassos 2 , confirms our view and illuminates it further by 
Latin custom. Speaking of the Penates brought by Aeneas from 
the Troad, he says : 

Now these gods are called by the Romans Penates. Bnt those who 
translate the word into Greek render it, some as ' Patrooi,' some as 
' Genethlioi,' some again as ' Ktesioi,' others as ' Mychioi,' others as 
1 Herkeioi.' Each and all of these translators seem to adopt a word 
according to what has occurred to themselves, and they all mean pretty 

1 Eur. Xauck fr». pncert.), 912 : 

ffol tu TravTwv fxebeovrt. X°V U 
weXavov re <pepw. Zeus etr 'AiS^s 
dfo/j.a('dfj.evos are'pytis' o~v Se p.oi 

dvaiav CLTTVpOV TTCL-, K a pw eias 
Seijai ttXtj/jt] TrpoxvOuaav. 
• Ant. Rom. I. lxvii. 3 tous be deoiis tovtovs ' Pcj/xaloi p.ev Ilevdras KaXovcrtv ol 5' 
i^ipfi-qvtvovTt^ els T-qv 'EWdSa yXZooav roCvo/xa ol fiev Ilarp^ous aircxpaivovcriv, ol be 
TevedXious, elffl 5' oJ KrTjcrioi'S, a\\oi be Minors, ol be 'Ep/mois. ?oih be roiiruv 
i:Ka<rTOS Kara tivos tQiv avp.^e^r}KbTU3V avroh jroieiffdai tt)v eTr't.K\7)<nv , KLvbvvetiovai re 
nacres ap-wcryeiruii to clvto \iyeiv. ffxvi xaT0S & KaL /Aopcprjs avrwv ire'pt Ti/xaios /xev o 
cvyypaqtieus Jibe aTro<paiveTai' /ojpuKta aibrfpa nal x<*XkS. ko.1 nipauov TpwtKOv elvat to. M 
Tois abxirois toIs iv Xaov'Cv'up lepd, irvdeadai be auros raira wapb. tuiv eTrixuplw. 


Roman Genius of the Penus 


much the same. Timaios the historian expresses himself thus as to their 
form and appearance. The sacred things deposited in the adyta at Lavinium 
are Kerykeia of iron and bronze and Trojan pottery, and he said that he 
learnt this from the natives of the place. 

The house-snake of the Romans as guardian of the penus is far 
more familiar to us than the Agathos Daimon or Zeus Ktesios 
of the Greek storeroom. He appears on countless Graeco-Roman 
wall-paintings. A good instance is given in Fig. 80 \ We have 

Fig. 80. 

the facade of a house in temple-form— the pediment decorated 
with sacrificial gear, a boucranium, a patera, a sacrificial knife. 
Within, supposed no doubt to be within the penetralia, are the 

1 From the photograph of a Pompeiau wall-painting. 


t/\ (** 
Daimon and Hero 


family sanctities 


The great fertility-snake in front, all sur- 
rounded by herbage and ap- 
proaching a small altar, is the 
genius of the house in animal 
form 1 . Above is the head of the 
house himself, the human genius, 
to either side of him a dancing 
Lar holding a cornucopia. 
Similar in feeling is the design 
in Fig. 81, from a relief in the 
Villa Medici 2 . The snake genius 
this time is twined actually 
round the household altar and 
the head of the house himself 
FlG - 81- holds the cornucopia. The snake 

") is omnipresent. It is not till Rome falls under Greek influence 
that we get the family daimon abstracted from the hearth and 
fully anthropomorphic. The Bonus Eventus of the blue glass 
cameo plaque 3 in Fig. 82 is a Greek for all his name 4 , a goodly 
human youth with no hint of divinity but his patera and corn 
ears, a /xejLaTo<s KoO/jck. 

It is of the first importance to note that in Denys's account of 
the Greek equivalents of the Penates the renderings are all in the 
plural. The Greek mind, intensely personal, individual, clear cut 
as it was, tended to the singular, to Zeus Ktesios, who is a 
personality, rather than to Ktesioi, who are vague daimones. 
It is indeed through the Latin genii that we best understand 
] the Greek daimones. They are at once more impersonal and, 
which is almost the same thing, more collective, more generalized, 
«>r rather less specialized. The genius is essentially as its name 
shows the spirit of life, birth, generation 5 ; to live a full life is 

1 Cf. Servius ad Verg. Georg. m. 417 (serpens) gaudet tectis ut sunt dyadol 
oaifioves quos Latini genios vocant. 

- 1 Annali delV Inst. 1862, Taf. R. 4. 

8 In the British Museum, reproduced from Mr Cyril Davenport's Cameos, 1900, 
pi. 3, by kind permission of Messrs Seeley. 

4 The cameo seems to reflect the art type adopted by Euphranor ; see Pliny N.H. 
84. 77 Euphranoris simulacrum P>oni Eventus dextra pateram, sinistra spicam ac 
papaverem teuens. 

5 Cf. the lectus genialis. Paul the Dea on says (p. 94), Lectus genialis qui 
nuptiis sternitur in honorem genii, unde et appellatus, a statement which, 
reversed, just hits the mark. 


Genius of the Group 


indulgere genio, to live ascetically is defraudare genium. But 
though each man had his individual genius, his life-spirit, the 
genius is essentially of the group ; it is as it were incarnate in the 

Fig. 82. 

father of the family 1 or in the emperor as head of the state. 
Every department of social life, every curia, every vicus, every 
pagus had its genius, its utterance of a common life ; not only 
the city of Rome had its Genius Urbis Romae but the whole 
Roman people had its Genius Publicus Popidi Roivani 2 . 

1 For the family as representing an economic unit and as contrasted with the 
(/ens which is a kinship unit, see Mr Warde Fowler's most interesting account in 
his Religious Experience of the Roman People, 1911, p. 70. 

2 This point is well brought out in the article s.v. Genius in Daremberg and 
Saglio's Dictionmtire des Antiquites, ' il (le genius) etait une divinite toute trouvee 
pour les collectivites de tout ordre.' 

304 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

The Dioscuri as Agathoi Daimones. 

We have not yet done with the singular account by Deny*. 
The mention of Kerukeia recalls to us Hermes as Agathos Daimon 
and the feTt\\\ty-kerukeia of the Alexandrian coins 1 . The Trojan 
'pottery' takes us back to the Kadiskoi 2 . Snakes and jars seem 
indeed to be the natural and characteristic sacra of these house- 
hold minima whether Greek or Latin. I have long suspected that 
the so-called funeral snakes and funeral jars that appear on 
sepulchral and other monuments have more to do with fertility- 
daimons than with the dead. On coins of Laconia, Fig. 83, 
one frequent symbol of the Dioscuri is a 
snake-twined amphora. Twins all over the 
world, as Dr Rendel Harris 3 has abundantly 
shown, are apt, not unnaturally, to play the 
part of fertility-daimones : they are not only, 
as the coin shows them, lucida sidera but they 
are gods of all manner of increase; they can 
Fig. 83. make rain, they cause the dew to fall. 

In connection with the Penates, the Ktesioi 
and the Kadiskoi, the well-known votive-relief 4 of Argenidas in 
Fig. 84 is of singular interest. Argenidas has returned from a 
voyage; his ship is figured in a kind of rocky bay to the right. 
Argenidas the dedicator stands safe and sound on a plinth in 
front of his ship. The inscription reads: 

Argenidas son of Aristogenidas to the Dioscuri, a vow. 

To the left are the twins in human form. In the right hand 
corner are their earliest d<f)i8pvfiaTa or images, the 86/cava, beams 
with crossbeams, railings, which to Plutarch's 5 kindly mind repre- 
sented their brotherly love. Beneath them is written '( Ana )keion.' 

1 Supra, p. 299. 

- It is, 1 think, very probable that the 'Duenos vase,' as suggested by Miss 
Bennett in an article as vet unpublished, was made like the Kernos to contain 
in its several compartments different seeds, etc. See also Daremberg and Saglio, 
s.v. Kernos. 

:! The Cult of the Heavenly Twins, 1906, p. 26. 

4 Verona Museo Lapidario 555, from a photograph kindly lent me by Dr Rendel 

5 De Fratern. amor. init. rd 7ra\Gud tQ>v Aioo-Kovpwv &<pi5pu tiara oi "ZirapriaTai 
boKava naXouai. ion 5e 5vo £i/\a TrapdW-qXa Sval 7rXa7tois eirefavy/jieva /cai doKel rii 
(pL\ad(\<f»j3 ru>i> dewv oineioi' tlvai rod dvaOrnxaros to kolvov xai adtaiptrov — -the word 
&<pi5pvp.a is untranslatable, it seems to mean anything set up apart, a dedication. 

vm] The Dioscuri as Agathoi Daimones 305 

They form as it were a double sanctuary of the ' Lords,' the Anakes, 
a title they share with Cecrops and many another hero. Between 

Fig. 84. 

Argenidas and the Dioscuri is a table, on it two tall amphorae. 

Are they funeral urns containing the ashes of the Dioscuri ? I 

think not. They perform, I believe, the 

function of the Kadiskoi of Zeus Ktesios, 

and I suspect they contain ambrosia, a 

pankarpia or a panspermia, for to the right 

of them is coiled in the air a daimon, a 

snake. On another relief, in Fig. 85 \ the 

dokana have snakes. This shows, I think, 

not that the Dioscuri are dead men, but 

that they are daimonic; they are, in the 

strict sense of the word, 'heroes.' 

The Dioscuri are heroes or daimones full of instruction, as 
another monument 2 in Fig. 86 will show. The design is from 
a votive-relief found in Thessaly, of late date and somewhat rough 
though vigorous workmanship. It represents the scene familiar 

Fig. 85. 

1 Sparta Cat. 588, from a photograph kindly sent me by Mr Wace. 

2 In the Louvre Museum. W. Frohner, Deux Peintures de Vases Grecs, 1871, 
PI. ii., and see my Mythology and Monuments, 1890, p. 159, for the simple meal 
provided in the Prytaneion at Athens for the Dioscuri. 

H. 20 


Daimon and Hero 


^ to us as the Theoxenia, 'Banquet of the gods.' A couch is set 
with cushions and coverlet, a table spread with fruit and cakes; 
below it an altar on which the male worshipper is placing some 
object. The guests are arriving. The woman lifts her hand to 
welcome the great Epiphany. The guests are the 'Great Gods,' 
magnificently galloping down from high heaven on their prancing 
horses, preceded by Nike with a garland. Above them in 
. the pediment Helios is rising. The inscription reads ©eot? 

Fig. 86. 

fxeydXois Aavda ' ArdoveLret[a] 'To the Great Gods Danaa 
daughter of...'; the reading of the second name is uncertain. 

What is the meaning of this absurd, incompatible representa- 
tion ? Simply this. In the Theoxenia we have the old magical 
service of the panspermia and the pankarpia Olympianized. In 
the old order the pot of seeds or the liknon full of fruits were in 
themselves sanctities; they were themselves carried and conse- 
crated as dirapxal or first-fruits; they were tabooed from man's 
use that they might be the seed and source of fertility for the 
coming year. There are as yet no human gods, there is no gift- 
sacrifice. There are only vague shapes of daimones that crystallize 

viii] Daimones and Theoi 307 

gradually into the shape of the Good and Wealthy Daimon who 
year by year renews himself and refills his cornucopia with earth's 
produce. But, when the daimones take shape as theoi, the old 
service must fit itself to the new conceptions. The dirap^al and 
the communal vegetarian dais that followed on the release from 
taboo became feasts held in honour of these theoi. These non- 
existent Olympian magnificences have couches and tables, and 
oddly combined with the table for the old offering of the 
pankarpia is an altar for burnt sacrifice. To crown the absurdity, 
the Anakes, 'Lords' of man's life on earth, they who were snake- 
daimones of fertility, are changed into human horsemen who gallop 
proudly down from the sky to honour a mortal banquet. Mytho- 
logy makes of them the personal ' sons of Zeus,' but to ritual they 
are still functionaries, Anakes. 

We have purposely brought together the two representations 
of the Dioscuri (a) the snake-twined amphorae, (b) the Horsemen 
descending to the Theoxenia, because they bring into sharp contrast 
the two poles as it were of religious thinking. On the one hand 
we have daimones, collective representations of purely functional 
import, with their ritual of magic ; on the other full-blown anthro- 
poid theoi, descending from heaven to their service of do ut des. 
But the Theoxenia 1 is by anticipation; the Olympians, their 
nature and their ritual, are reserved for the next chapter; we 
have now to establish finally, not the relation of god to daimon but 
of daimon to dead man. This relation, and with it the true nature 
of a 'hero,' comes out with almost startling clearness in a class of 
monuments which have puzzled generations of archaeologists, and 
which I venture to think can only be understood in the light of 
the Agathos Daimon — I mean the monuments variously and in- 
structively known as ' Sepulchral Tablets,' ' Funeral Banquets,' and 
'Hero Feasts.' 

The ' Hero Feasts.' 

Over three hundred of these 'Hero Feasts' are preserved, so 
we may be sure they represent a deep-seated and widespread 

1 Analogous to the Theoxenia of the Dioscuri are the stories of Tantalos 
(see supra, p. 244) and Lycaon who 'entertain the gods.' Behind such myths lies 
always the old magical 5cus. 



Dahnon and Hero 


popular tradition. A good typical instance 1 is given in 
Fig. 87. 

A man reclines at a banquet; his wife, according to Athenian 
custom, is seated by his side. In front is a table loaded with cake 
and fruits. So far we might well suppose that we had, as on 
Athenian grave-reliefs, a scene from daily life, just touched with a 
certain solemnity, because that life is over. But other elements 
in the design forbid this simple interpretation. A boy-attendant 
to the right pours out wine ; that is consistent with the human 

Fig. 87. 

feast, but a boy to the left brings, not only a basket of ritual 
l shape, but a pig that must be for sacrifice. 

Pindar's question is again much in place : 

What god, what hero, what man shall we sing ? 

The answer is given, I think, by the snake, who with seeming ir- 
relevance uprears himself beneath the table. The banqueter is a 
man; the horse's head like a coat of arms marks him as of knightly 
rank. He is in some sense divine; else why should he have 
sacrifice and libation ? And yet he is no real god, no Olympian ; 
rather he is a man masked to his descendants as a daimon, as the 
Agathos Daimon. The dead individual grasps a perennial function 
and thereby wins immortality, he is heroized. 
1 Berlin, Sabouroff Coll. 


The l Hero- Feasts' 


On past interpretations, beginning with Winckelmann and 
probably not yet ended with Prof. Gardner 1 , it is not necessary 
long to dwell. All early interpretations fall under four heads. 
The scenes on the reliefs are explained either as 

(a) Mythological, e.g. Winckelmann interprets the banqueting 
scene as the loves of Demeter-Erinys and Poseidon. These 
mythological interpretations are now completely discredited. 

(b) Retrospective and commemorative. They represent domestic 
scenes in the daily life of the dead man, and thus are in line with 
the scenes on ordinary Athenian grave-reliefs. The snake is 
supposed to be a 'household snake.' 

(c) Representative of the bliss of Elysium where the dead 

Shall sit at endless feast. 

1 I borrow my summary of these views from Prof. Gardner's admirable paper. 
A Sepulchral Relief from Tarentum, in J. H. S., 1884, v. p. 105, where a full 
bibliography of the subject will be found. 


Daimon and Hero 


(d) Commemorative, but of ritual facts, i.e. of the offerings of 
meat and drink brought by survivors to the grave of the dead 
man. This interpretation brings the 'Hero Feasts' almost into 
line with the well-known Sparta reliefs, where the heroized dead 
are 'worshipped' by diminutive descendants 1 . 

Almost but not quite. To bring food and drink to your dead 
relations, whether from fear or love, is to treat them as though 
they were the same as when they were alive, creatures of like 
passions and like potency or impotency with yourself. On the 
Sparta relief 2 in Fig. 88, they are, like Cleomenes 3 , Kpelrrove^; rrjv 
<f>vaiv, stronger, greater in their nature, quite other than the 
humble descendants who bring them cock and pomegranate. 

Fig. 89. 

How has it come to pass ? The relief speaks clearly. They too 
have taken on the form and function of the Agathos Daimon. A 
great snake is coiled behind their chair, and the male figure holds 
in his right hand a huge kantharos, not ' in honour of Dionysos ' 

1 See Mr A. J. B. Wace, Sparta Museum Catalogue, 1906, p. 102, for a full 
analysis of the ' Totenmahlrelief,' andDr Rouse's instructive chapter on 'The Dead, 
the Heroes and the Chthonian Deities,' in his Greek Votive Offerings, 1902. 

- A. Mitth. 1877, ii. pi. xxn. For the snake's heard which marks him as a half- 
human daimon not a real snake see Prolegomena, p. 327. 

3 Supra, p. 269. 

vni] Snake and Cornucopia 311 

but because to him as Agathos Daimon libation of the new wine 
will be made. In his left he holds a pomegranate, the symbol, 
with its bursting seeds, of perennial fertility. 

The relief in Fig. 89 * shows us another instructive element 
We have the accustomed banquet scene made very human by the 
crouching dog under the table. In the background, close to the 
horse's head, is a tree, and round it is coiled a snake. The tree 
and the snake wound round it are the immemorial ' symbol ' of 
life. The snake, the Agathos Daimon, is the genius of growing 
things, guardian of the Tree of Life, from the garden of Eden to 
the garden of the Hesperides. 

In Fig. 89 the foremost of the three banqueting men holds 
a great horn from which the snake seems about to drink. Is the 
horn just a drinking-cup, a rhyton, used by the dead man, or has 
it some more solemn significance, some real connection with the 
snake ? A chance notice in Athenaeus 2 gives us the needful clue. 
Chamaileon, a disciple of Aristotle, in his treatise ' On Drunkenness ' 
noted that large cups were a characteristic of barbarians and not 
in use among the Greeks. But he is aware of one exception. 

In the various parts of Greece nowhere shall we find, either in paintings 
or in historical records, any large-sized cup except those used in hero-cere- 
monies. For example, they assign the cup called rhyton only to heroes. 

Chamaileon feels that there is a difficulty somewhere, but he 
explains that the cups of heroes are large because heroes are of 
' difficult ' temper and dangerous habits. The reason I would 
suggest is simpler. They ' assign ' the rhyton, the great horn, 
as appropriate to a hero, because the hero as daimon had it from 
the beginning — the rhyton is the cornucopia. 

The snake and the great cornucopia, the ' Horn of Amaltheia,' 
the ' Eniautos ' cup 3 are, I think, evidence enough that the ban- 
queting man is conceived of as an Agathos Daimon. It is not 
necessary to suppose that everywhere he was locally known by 

1 From a relief in the local museum at Samos. Inv. 55. See Wiegand, Antike 
Skulpturen in Samos, A. Mitth. 1900, p. 176. 

2 XI. 4. 461 ev St roh wepl ttjv EXXdSa t6ttois, oifr' if ypcupais, oi"r' eirl rwv 
irpbrepov, evp7)<rop.ev woTrjpiov ev/xiyedes eipya<r/j.ii>ov, w~\r)v tG)v ewi rots rjpwiKOis. To 
yap pvrbv 6vop.a^6fj.epov /xovois rols yjpwaiv aTrediooaav. "0 Kai 56£ec tlctlv ^x eLV dwopiav, 
el ix'q tls &pa <p7](X€i€ . . . . In previously discussing this passage {Proleg. p. 448) I 
understood as little as Chamaileon the real significance of the rhyton in the 
' Hero-Feasts.' 

3 Supra, p. 186. 


Daimon and Hero 


that exact title. The name matters little ; the functions, as 
expressed in the attributes snake and horn, are all important. 
Yet in one instance 1 , the design in Fig. 90, we have direct evidence 

Fig. 90. 

of actual names, which, but for the inscription, we should never 
have dared to supply. 

Aristomache and Theoris dedicated (it) to Zeus Epiteleios, Philios, and to 
Philia, the mother of the god and to Tyche Agathe the wife of the god. 

Aristomache and Theoris we may see in the two women wor- 
shippers. Probably they are mother and wife of the man who 
walks between them. The inscription teems with suggestion. It 
is Olympian in spirit ; the two women pray first and foremost to 
Zeus the Accomplisher, no doubt that the wife's marriage may be 
fruitful and the mother may see her children's children. It is 
patriarchal, for Zeus has a wife ; it is matrilinear, for his mother 
is invoked. 

But it is the names that most amaze and delight us. Zeus 

1 Jacobsen Coll. Ny Carlsberg, Copenhagen Cat. 95, first published and discussed 
by A. Furtwangler, Ein soqenanntes Todtcninahlrelief mit Inschrift in Sitzungs- 
berichte d. k. Bay. Akad. d. Wissenschaften, philos.-philolog. Ki. 1897, p. 401. 


Dead Man as Hero 


is not only Epiteleios, he is also Philios 1 . Philios the friendly, 
sociable one, is the very incarnation of the dais, the communal 
meal, he is always ready for the Theoxenia, based as it was on 
the old service of the Agathos Daimon. His mother Philia is but 
the feminine counterpart of his name. It is his wife who unmasks 
his Olympian pretensions, and shows him for the earth-born divinity 
that he is, his wife and his great cornucopia, for, if his wife be 
Agathe Tyche, who is he but the ancient Agathos Daimon ? 

We have dwelt long on the daimon character of the banqueter, 
because that is apt to be neglected, but it must not be forgotten 
that he has another aspect, that of actual dead man. On one 2 of 
the Sparta grave-reliefs, in Fig. 91 this is certain. A seated man 
holds in the right hand a great 
kantharos, in the left a pomegranate. 
A large snake in the left-hand corner 
marks his daimon character, but he 
is an actual dead man ; against him 
his name is clearly written, Timokles. 
These Sparta reliefs were actual 
tomb-stones over particular graves : 
the later ' Hero-feast ' type with 
the reclining banqueter were rather 
adjuncts to tomb-stones, set up in 
family precincts. They are how- 
ever frequently inscribed, sometimes 
simply with the name of the dead 

man or dead woman, sometimes with the additional statement 
that he or she is hero or heroine. Thus a hero-feast in Leyden :! 
is dedicated ' to Kudrogenes, Hero' (KuBpoyevei "Hpou). On another 
in Samos 4 is inscribed 'Lais daughter of Phoenix, Heroine, hail !' 
(Aai? <&oLVLtco<i 'HpoLvi] xalpe). It is as though we heard the 
Chorus chant to the dead Alkestis 5 

vvv S' icrri fidicaipa daipcov 
X ai p'i m totvi , eii 8e doins. 

1 For Zeus Philios see Prolegomena, p. 359. To the comedian Zeus Philios was 
the ' diner-out ' par excellence. 

2 A. Mitth. 1879, iv. Taf. vnr. p. 292. Other inscribed instances are figured in 
Mr Wace's Introduction to Sculpture in the Sparta Museum Catalogue, p. 105. 

3 No. 15 ; see Prof. Gardner, oj). cit. p. 116. 

4 No. 60, Prolegomena, p. 352, Fig. 106. 5 Eur. Alk. 1003. 

Fig. 91. 

314 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

In the archaic grave-reliefs of Sparta the dead man is figured 
as a hero, that is, as we now understand it, he has put on the garb 
and assumed the functions of an Agathos Daimon. In the ' Hero 
Feasts ' of the fourth and succeeding centuries right down through 
Roman times, the dead man is also heroized, is figured as we have 
seen with snake and cornucopia. But Athenian grave-reliefs of 
the fine-period, of the fifth and early fourth centuries B.C., know 
of no snake no cornucopia 1 no daimon-hero. The dead man is 
simply figured as he was in life ; he assumes no daimonic function 
whether to ban or to bless ; he is idealized it may be but not 
divinized. The cause of this remarkable fact, this submergence 
of the daimon -aspect of the dead man will concern us later. One 
last form of the Hero-Feast, of special significance for our argument, 
yet remains to be considered. 

The design in Fig. 92 is the earliest known specimen 2 of the 


Fig. 92. 

so-called ' Ikarios reliefs.' The main part of the composition is 
the familiar ' Hero Feast,' the reclining banqueter, the attendant 

1 This is the more remarkable as the Athenian grave-reliefs take over, as I have 
tried to show elsewhere (Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, p. 590), the art-type of the 
earlier Spartan monuments. It seems as though, while the art-type is preserved, 
the snake and cornucopia, the daimonic attributes were advisedly expurgated. 

2 Found at the Peiraeus, now in the Louvre. F. Dehneken, Einkelir des Dionysos, 
Arch. Zeit. 1881, p. 272. 

vin] The 'Ikarios' Reliefs 315 

cup-bearer, the seated wife, the table laden with fruits and cakes, 
the rampant snake. But on the left, instead of approaching wor- 
shippers, the hero's descendants, we have the Epiphany of a god. 
A daimon-hero receives the dainion, the god Dionysos — 6 haifxcov 
6 Ato? irah 1 . 

There were many legends of heroes who ' received ' Dionysos. 
Pegasos received the god at Eleutherae in Boeotia, Ikarios the 
eponymous hero of the deme Ikaria received him in Attica, 
Amphictyon at Athens 2 . We cannot say that the banqueter on 
the relief is Ikarios or Pegasos, nor is it important to give him 
a name. The cardinal point is that, as the relief shows us, a local, 
daimonic, hero-cult could and did blend with the worship of the 
incoming Thracian Dionysos. In the light of the Agathos Daimon 
of the Pithoigia we see how easy was the fusion. Daimon and 
divinity alike had their wine-jars, their fruitful trees and blossom- 
ing flowers, and, best of all, their common animal-form, the holy 
snake. One daimon receives another and a greater than himself — 
that is all ; but we understand now why Cleisthenes could so lightly 
take from the hero Adrastos his tragic choroi and ' give them as 
his due 3 to Dionysos.' From one daimon to another they had not 
far to go. 

We have now established the nature of a ' hero ' and seen that 
the two factors, dead man and daimon, that go to his making, are, 
in the light of the primitive doctrine of reincarnation, inextricably 
intertwined. The daimon proper, we have seen, was a collective 
representation expressing not a personality so much as a function, 
or at least a functionary, the eponym of a gens, the basileus of 
a state. As each individual man dies, though for a while he may 
be dreaded as a ghost, his tomb being tended by way of placation, 
he passes finally to join the throng of vague ' ancestors ' who year 

1 Eur. Bacch. 416. The god's traits as Agathos Daimon, as feaster and as near 
akin to Eirene who nurtured the child Ploutos, come out very clearly in this chorus. 

Xai'pet fxev daXicuaiv, 
0t\er 5' 6\fio8oTeipav Ei- 
p-fjvav, KovpoTp6<f>ov dedv. 
GaXta and Acu's are figures near akin, ritual communal banquets, and Acus we 
remember (p. 146) was irpeafiioTT) dedv. 

2 Paus. i. 2. 5, and Dr Frazer, ad loc. 

3 Herod, v. 67 KXeio-tfei^s Be x°povs /xev t£ Aiovvay a-rr^SuKe. I advisedly translate 
diredwKe 'gave them as his due.' The regular meaning of anodibwixi is to give to 
some one what is appropriate to him, to which he has some claim, hence its 
frequent use in the sense of to ' restore,' ' repay.' 

310 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

by year at the Anthesteria reemerge themselves and send or rather 
bring back as flowers and fruit the buried seed. A writer in the 
Hippocratic Corpus 1 tells us, if any one saw the dead in a dream 
dressed in white and giving something, it was a good omen, for 

'■from the dead come food and increase and seeds' 

And as Aristophanes 2 has it : 

When a man dies, we all begin to say 

The sainted one has 'passed away,' has 'fallen asleep,' 

Blessed therein that he is vexed no more ; 

Yes, and with holy offerings we sacrifice 

To them as to the gods — and pour libations, 

Bidding them send good things up from below. 

We have next to establish a further step in our argument. 
The 'hero' takes on not only the form and general function of 
the daimon but also his actual life-history as expressed and 
represented in his ritual. This further step is, as will presently be 
seen, for the understanding of the origin of the drama of para- 
mount importance. We shall best understand its significance by 
taking a single concrete case that occurs in the mythology and 
cultus of the quasi-historical hero, Theseus. Theseus is an 
example to us specially instructive because his cult took on 
elements from that of Dionysos. He too not only absorbed the 
functions of an Agathos Daimon but like Pegasos, like Ikarios, 
like the nameless hero in Fig. 92 'received' the god. 

Theseus as Hero-daimon. 

To pass from Cecrops or even Erichthonios to Theseus is to 
breathe another air. Cecrops is the eponymous hero of the 
Cecropidae, the Basileus, the imagined head of a Gens 3 , later mis- 
understood as a constitutional monarch. He is also a being on 
whom as medicine-king the fertility of people and crops depended, 
a snake-daimon. Theseus lays no claim to be autochthonous. 

1 De Somn. n. p. 14 ...and yap tu>v airodavbvTuv ai rpo<pal teal ai}£?7<rets Kal 
cnrepfiaTa yiuovTai. 

* Tageuist. frg. 1 Kal Ovop.t'u y avro'cen toTs ivaylaixaaiv 
usairep deolcri Kal x°<is ye xeo/xevoi 
aiTovfAcd' avrovs ra /caXd oevpo avitvai. 
3 I follow Prellwitz in understanding Basileus as 'Geschlechtsherr,' see 
FAymologisches WorterbucJt, 1905, s.v. 

vm] Theseus as Hero- Daimon 317 

A chance poet 1 concerned to glorify the hero may call the Athe- 
nians ' Theseidae,' but Theseus is no real eponym. He comes 
from without ; he represents the break with the gentile system, 
with the gens and its Basileus; he stands for democracy. His was 
the synoikia. Before his days the people of Attica had lived 
in scattered burghs {Kara TroXea), citadel communities with each 
a Basileus or archon — a Pandion on the burgh of Megara, a Cecrops 
on the Athenian Acropolis — with each a city hearth, a Prytaneion. 
Theseus broke down the old divisions, the ancient Moirai, confusing 
doubtless many an archaic sanctity. He made one community 
with one goddess, and in her honour he instituted the festival of 
the Synoikia, the Feast of Dwelling together 2 . 

From the mythology of Theseus as representative of the 
democracy the supernatural has as far as possible been expurgated. 
The snake, the daimon double of the ' hero,' has ceased to haunt 
him. Plutarch in his delightful way says at the beginning of his 
Life of Theseus 3 : 

' I desire that the fabulous material I deal in may be subservient to my 
endeavours, and, being moulded by reason, may accept the form of history, 
and, when it obstinately declines probability and will not blend appropriately 
with what is credible I shall pray my readers may be indulgent and receive 
with kindness the fables of antiquity.' 

So forewarned, we may be sure that ancient tradition has been 
freely tampered with by Plutarch as well as by his predecessors. 
It is the more delightful to find that, though the heroic snake- 
form is abolished — doubtless as unworthy of the quasi-historical 
Theseus — his cult preserves intact the life-history of- a fertility 
daimon. One festival only of those associated with him can be 
considered, but this will repay somewhat detailed examination — 
the famous Oschophoria. 

The Oschophoria. Plutarch 4 is our best authority for the 
Oschophoria and his narrative must be given in full. Theseus has 
slain the Minotaur, has deserted Ariadne on Naxos, has put in at 

1 Soph. Oed. Col. 1065 deivds 6 irpoaxupwv "Apt)s, Si Qr)aet.58.v olk/x.6.. 

2 Thucyd. n. 15 iwl yap KiKpovos kcll twv irpuruv (3a<ji\ewv i) 'Attikt) es Qr/crea del 
Kara woKets ipKeiro wpvraveia. re e'xowct /ecu apxovTas . . . . 

3 Sub init. 

4 Vit. Thes. xxn. Plutarch's account is very likely drawn from Krates irepi 
dvaiGiv (circ. 200 B.C.). 


318 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

Delos and there, parenthetically, instituted the Crane-dance ; he 
turns his ship at last homewards. 

1 When their course brought them near to Attica both Theseus and the 
pilot were so overjoyed that they forgot to hoist the sail which was to be the 
signal to Aigeus of their safe return and he, despairing of it, threw himself 
from the rock and was killed. But Theseu s, on landing , himself performe d 
the sacrifices he had vowed to the gods at Phaler on when he set sail, and 
m eantime dispatche d a Trresse/u /er to the city with new s of his safe retur n. 
The mess eng~r met^ jnJJt rnan^_who were lamenting the death oflhe kin g and 
others who rejoiced as teas meet and were ready to n-evin' him (Theseus) with 
'kindn ess and to crown him on his safe return. He received the crowns and 
wound them about his kerykeio n and coming back to the shore, as Theseus had 
not yet finished his libations, he stopped outside, being unwilling to disturb 
the sacrifice. When the libations were accomplished he announced the end of 
Aigeus, and they with weepings and lamentation* hastened wp to the city 1 .' 

' Hen ce even now they say, at the Oschophoria , the herald does not crown 
himsel t but his kerykeion, and those who assist at the libations utter at tEe 
moment or the libations the words Eleleu, loic, Iou, of which the one is a cry used 
by people when they pour libation and chant the paean, the other expresses 
terror and confusion 2 . Theseus having buried his father redeemed the vow 
he had made to Apollo on the seventh day of Pyanepsion ; for it was on this 
. £•*•{ day that they came back in safety and went up to the city. The boiling o f 
m, all sorts of pulse, is said to take place becaus e, when they returned in safety, 
j^aJ-^- tfaev mixed together what was left of their p rovision s i n one pot in common 
and consumed them feasting in common together. And thev carry out the 
"^ . Eiresione, a branch of olive wound_ ab out with wool like the suppliant branch, 
y**. on that occasion, and l aden with all sorts of first-fruits t hat scarcity may 
2^1U4 cease, and they sing over it 
uX Eiresione brings 

\ Figs and fat cakes, 

And a pot of honey and oil to mix, 
And a wine cup strong and deep, 
That she may drink and sleep. 
Some say that these things began to be done on account of the Heracleidae 
who were thus nurtured by the Athenians, but the greater number agree with 

the above 3 And they also celebrate the festival of the Oschophoria which 

was instituted by Theseus.' / 

f Plutarch begins his account of the actual ceremonies of the ; 
/Oschophoria with the statement that two of the seven maidens 
I taken by Theseus to Crete were really young men dressed to look 
)like women. On his return to Athens these two young men 
^walked in the procession dressed, he says, like those who now (in 
he Oschophoria) carry the branches. 


1 The passages in italics are those which, if my interpretation be right, have 
ritual significance, though supposed to be merely historical. 

2 (.iTKpwvtlv Se iv rats oirovdais EXe\eO,'Ioi) 'lew, tovs ■Ka.pbvTa.s' wv t6 piev airevb'ovTes 
(cnreu5oi>Tes codd. corr. F. M. C.) avaQuvuv ko.1 TrauovigovTes eluOatri, to 8i e/c7rX^|ewj 
/cat rapaxv^ io~ri. 

3 At this point is a digression (xxiii.) in which the ship of Theseus is described. 
It was preserved by the Athenians down to the time of Demetrios of Phalerum and 
was probably an old ritual car. See Nilsson, Archiv f. Religionswiss. xi. 402, and 
Griechische Feste, 1906, p. 268, note 5. 

viii] Ritual of the Oschophoria 319 

' These, they carry to do honour to Dionysos and Ariadne on account of ) 
the legend, or rather because they came back when the fruit-harvest was ) 
being gathered in. The Deipnophoroi (carriers of the meal) take part and \ 
have a share in the sacrifice, and play the part of the mothers of those on ( 
whom the lot fell, for they kept coming to them with provisions, and tales 
(fivdoi) ai'e recited because those mothers used to recount tales to cheer up 
their children and comfort them. Demon also gives the same particulars. 
And a temenos was set apart to Theseus, and the Phytalidae superintended 
the sacrifice, Theseus having handed it over to them in return for their 

Before discussing this remarkable hodge-podge of ritual and 
pseudo-history our account of the Oschophoria must be completed} 
from other sources. > 

Athenaeus 1 in describing the various shapes of vases mentions 
one called pentaploa (the fivefold). 

'Philochoros mentions it in the second book of his Attica. And Aristo- 
demos in the third book of his Concerning Pindar says that during the Skira 
a contest took place at Athens consisting of a race of epheboi. And that they 5 
run holding a fruit-laden vine-branch, which is what is called an oschos. And I 
they run from the sanctuary of Dionysos as far as the sanctuary of Athena 
Skiras, and he who wins receives the kylix called pentaploa, and he feasts with 
a choros. And the kylix is called pentaploa inasmuch as it holds wine and 
honey and cheese and meal and a little oil.' 

Proklos also in his C/irestomathia 2 has a valuable notice as 
follows : 

' Songs belonging to the Oschophoria are sung among the Athenians. Two 
youths of the chorus are dressed like women and carry branches of vine laden 
with fine bunches of grapes, they call such a branch an osche, and from this 
the songs get their name, and these two lead the festival.' 

After repeating some of the details and the pseudo-history already 
known to us from Plutarch, Proklos goes on : 

' The chorus follows the two youths and sings the songs. Epheboi from 
each tribe contend with each other in the race, and of these the one who is 
first tastes of the phiale called pentaple, the ingredients of which are oil, wine, 
honey, cheese and meal.' 

1 xi. 62, §§ 495, 496 ...'Apio-rddrj/jLos 5' ev rpiru) irepl Hwddpov rots — /a'pots (prjalw 
Adfya'ge (' Adijvyjffi. Mem.) dyu>va eVtTeXetcrtfat tuiv e<p7?/3wi' dpbfiov' Tpex eiv <> airrovs 
%X 0VTa s d/xweXov k\&8ov KaraKapTrov, t6v KaXovfxevov wcx ov - Tpe^oi'trt 5' e'/c tov lepov tov 
Aiovvaov fJ-^xpi- tov rrjs 2/ctpd5os 'AOrjpds iepov, Kal 6 j't/cijcras Xafj-ftdvei KvXiKa tt\v Xeyopev-qv 
irevTawXoav /cat /cw/udj~et fxerd xopov. llevrairXoa 8' 77 kvXi!; /caAeirat, Kad' oaov oivov 2x €L 
/cat fjL^Xi /cat rvpbv /cat dXcftirov Kal eXaiov fipaxv- 

- Chrestomath. 28 6o~xo<popiKa 5e /xiX-q irapd 'Adrjvaiois rjdero' tov 8e x°P°v °^ °^° 
veaviai Kara ywat/cas ecrroAtOT^fot /cA^ara d/j-rreXov KonifovTes fMecrruiv (sic) evddXcov 
fioTpvwv (e'/cdAow 5^ avrb oaxWi d<p' ov /cat rot? /j.^Xeaii' 77 eiriovvM-ia) rfjs eoprrjs KadrjyovvTO. 

&p£ai Be Qrjaea vpOirov tov tpyov k.t.X eiVero rots veavlais 6 x°P oi Ka ^ V^ e T< * A^T e£ 

e/cdoTTjs 52 <pvXi)s 'icprijioi Si7]fxt.XXu>vTo irpbs dXXrjXovs dpd/xcp ' Kal tovtwv 6 Trpdrepos iyevero 
e/c rrjs TrevTairXijs Xeyofxevrjs (ptdAris, 7? avveKLpvaro eXaicf Kal o'ivu Kal /xeXiri /cat Tvpip Kal 

320 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

Probably most of the ritual details in Plutarch, Athenaeus and 
Proklos come from Philochoros. Istros 1 , who was nearly his con- 
temporary, wrote an account of Theseus in the thirteenth book of 
his History, and adds the somewhat important detail that the two 
oschophoroi had to be ' conspicuous both for race and wealth.' 
The scholiast on Nikander's Alexipharmaka says 2 that they had 
to have both parents alive, and Hesychius 3 adds that they were in 
the flower of their age. 

Amid much uncertainty as to detail the main features of the 
) festival stand out clearly. First and foremost the Oschophoria is 
an autumn festival, marking and crowning the end of all the 
harvests. It is one feature in the great Pyanepsia which gave 
its name to the fourth month of the Attic year, Pyanepsion (Oct. 
Nov.). Pyanepsia meant bean-cooking, and one element in the 
feast was the common meal out of the common pot, a bean-feast 
or iravGTrep/jLia 4 , such as that which was eaten, as we saw, in 
Athens at the Anthesteria on the day of the Chytroi. It required 
some ingenuity to fit the Bean-Feast on to the slaying of the 
Minotaur, but Plutarch, or his authority 5 , is equal to the occasion. 
Theseus and his companions, on their return from Crete, being 
short of provisions, ' mixed together what was left of everything 
and ate it from a common pot.' 

Besides the pyanepsia proper, the Bean-Feast, we have two 
other elements whose gist is clearly analogous, and which are 
therefore best taken together: 

1 a. The Eiresione. 
b. The Oschophoria. 

The Eiresione 6 was carried also at the earlier harvest-festival 

1 Ap. Harpocrat. s.v. 6<tx 0( P°P 0L -< > ^ "Icrrpos iv rfi 17' irepl Qyaiws Xeywv ypa<pei 
oi/tcos, evena rrjs koivtjs aurripias vof/.l<rcu tovs KaXov/xevovs dffxocpopovs KaraXe'yet.i' /3' tu>i> 
y4vet xai ttXovtip KpaTovvTwv. Harpocration defines ocrxv as kXtj/ao. ^orpvs it,-qpTT)fUvov% 

2 Schol. ad Alexipharm. 109 oaxocpopot. Se Xeyoprai Adrjvrjai iraides d/j.<pida\eis 
a.pu.\\u>p.evot. Kara <pv\as oi k.t.X. 

3 S.V. uaxo<popia. waides evyeveis ^/JwcTes KaraXeyovTaL oi k.t.X. 

4 Athen. xiv. 58, §§ 648 EcTt 5£ to wvaviov, oJs (prjai 2owt/3ios Tra.vo-irepfj.ia eV 
yXvKel 7}ipi)ijAvr}. Probably this was the exact mess eaten at the Pyanepsia. The 
word wuavov was old-fashioned. Heliodorus (ap. Athen. rx. 71, §§ 406) says, tt)s 
twv wvpwv expriaeojs eirivorjdeiffrjs, oi fxev waXaioi irvavov, oi 5i vvv bXbirvpov irpoo~- 
ayopevovo-iv. The most ancient mess was probably of pulse, the more modem of 
various sorts of grain. 

5 Possibly Krates the friend of Polemon. 

6 I have discussed the Eiresione in detail in connection with the Thargelia, 
Prolegomena, p. 77, chapter in., Harvest Festivals. I did not then understand the 


The Eiresione 


of the summer first-fruits, the Thargelia, which also gave their 
name to a month Thargelion, May — June. The Eiresione is of 
course simply a portable May-pole, a branch hung about with 
wool, acorns, figs, cakes, fruits of all sorts and sometimes wine-jars. 
It was appropriate alike to the early and the late harvest-festival, 
but for the late harvest after the vintage was over it had naturally 
to be supplemented by the carrying of other branches, vine-boughs 
laden with bunches of grapes, an Oschophoria. 

This blend of Eiresione and Oschophoria was evidently 
characteristic of the ceremonies of Pyanepsion. The two cere- 
monies are represented on the Calendar- frieze 1 of the old 
Metropolitan Church of Athens (Fig. 93) to mark the month 

& qr- 

Fig. 93. 

Pyanepsion. A boy carrying the Eiresione is followed by a 
magistrate, and immediately in front of him is a youth treading 
grapes and holding in his hand an dschos, a branch laden with 
bunches of grapes. To the right of him is a kanephoi'os carrying 
no doubt a pankarpia. 

With the Staphylodromoi of the Karneia 2 in our minds the 
main gist of the Oschophoria is clear. It is like the race of 
Olympia, a race of youths, epheboi, kouroi, with boughs. It has 

similar content of the Oschophoria. See also Mannhardt, Wald- und Feldkulte, 
1877, pp. 214 — 58, which, spite of its early date, is far the best account both as 
regards the collection of facts and their interpretation. 

1 J. N. Svoronos, Der Athenische Volkskalendar, Sonderabdruck aus Journal 
Internationale d'archeologie numismatique, 1899, n. 1. 

2 See supra, p. 234. 

h 21 

322 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

two elements, the actual agon the contest, in this case a race, and 
then, second in time but first in importance, the procession and the 
komos. The somewhat complicated details of the race seem to 
have been as follows 1 . Two epheboi chosen from each of the ten 
tribes raced against one another. The ten victors, after being 
feasted, formed into procession, one of them leading the way as 
keryx, two following, dressed as women and carrying branches, the 
remaining seven forming, as at Delphi, the choros. The prize is, 
in the Oschophoria, a cup of mingled drinks, manifestly not a 
thing of money value but of magical intent, a sort of liquid 
panspermia, or pankarpia, meet for a vintage feast. The blend 
of cheese and wine and honey may not commend itself to our 
modern palates, but Demeter, save for the wine, drank the same in 
her holy kykeon. 

The branches were carried, Plutarch conjectures, to do honour 
to Dionysos 'on account of the myth' (8ia top fivdov). The myth 
of Naxos may have done honour to Dionysos ; how it could reflect 
credit on Theseus or form a suitable element in his cult it is not 
easy to see The fivOos proper 2 , the word or tale spoken at a 
vintage ceremony, would no doubt — when a god had once been 
projected — do honour to the vintage god and his bride; but 
Plutarch, or his authorities", must of necessity connect it with 
his hero, so the disreputable legend of Naxos has to be tolerated 4 . 
But Plutarch suspects the real truth. No Greek as keen about 
ritual and religion as he was could fail to know that the Oschophoria 
was part of a vintage festival, but again the awkward hero has to 
be dragged in, so we have 'or rather because they came back when 
the fruit harvest was being gathered in.' 

In his account of the origin of the Olympic games Mr Cornford 5 

^as made it abundantly clear that the winner issued in the king, 

who, in one aspect, was but the leader of the choros, the head of 

1 See Mommsen, Feste d. Stadt Athen (1898), p. 285 ; and for the number seven 
in the Theseus legend cf. Verg. Mn. vi. 21 septena quotannis Corpora i.atorum. 

2 For the precise nature of a primitive /xDOos see infra, p. 327. 

:; Mommsen thinks that the Oschophoria and the Dionysos myths were attached 
to Theseus quite late, i.e. after the Persian war. The date of the contaminatio is of 
little importance to my argument. 

4 The mythology of Ariadne cannot here be examined, but it is interesting to 
note in passing that in the legend of the desertion Theseus and Dionysos are 
obvious doubles. 

5 See supra, chapter vn. 

viii] Eniautos-Daimo7i mid King 323 

the revelling komos. We are never told that the winner in the 
Oschophoria was called basileus, but in Plutarch's pseudo-history 
the truth comes out. The messenger meets 'many who were 
lamenting the death of the king and others who rejoiced as was 
meet and were ready to receive him with kindness and to crown him 
on his safe return.' The words are in our ears : Le Roi est mort; 
Vive le Roi. ^Egeus the old king dies; Theseus the new king 
reigns. The old Year is over, the new Year is begun. The 
festival looks back to a time and a place when and where the year 
ended with the final harvest and the new yea • began in academic 
fashion in the autumn 1 or early winter. 

In the Oschophoria the winner of the race is, as at Olympia, an 
Eniautos-daimon and a basileus in one. He dies as an individual 
and revives as an eternally recurrent functionary. The contra- 
dictory cries Eleleu Iou lou are now clear enough 2 . There is 
'terror and confusion' when the old Year, the old King, dies; there 
is libation, a paean, and a joyful cry when the new Year, the new 
King, is crowned. One curious detail looks back to still earlier 
days. At the Oschophoria the herald (ayyeXos) does not crown 
himself, he crowns his Kerykeion and his herald's staff with the two 
snakes entwined. This surely looks back to the time when the 
Eniautos-daimon was a snake or a pair of snakes, and the crown 
was for the symbol of the sn&ke-daimon not for his human 

Another ritual element points to early days — the JJeipnophoroi 
or foodbearers who supplied the chosen epheboi with provisions, 
took part in the ceremony, and then 'played the part of the 
mothers' of the youths on whom the lot fell (d7ro/j.i/j,ov/j.ei'ai tcls 
n.r)Tepas iicelv<ov twv Xa^uvroov). They also recited myths to 
encourage the youths. We have then as an integral part of the 
ritual just the two factors always present in matriarchal mytho- 
logy, the Mother and the Son. The mother brings food, because 
like Mother-Earth she is essentially the feeder, the Nurturer; the 
mother speaks words (/j.vdoi) of exhortation and consolation such 

1 Mr Chambers has shown that this was the case in the bi-seasonal year of 
central Europe. The winter season began in mid-November, the summer in mid- 
March. See The Mediaeval Stage, vol. i. 110. 

2 It seems impossible to decide that one of these cries definitely expresses joy 
and the other sorrow. Both vary according to their context. 


324 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

as many a mother must have spoken in ancient days to a son 
about to undergo initiation. Such words spoken aloud may have 
actually been a feature in initiation ritual. 

Yet another curious element in the ritual remains. Plutarch 
and Proklos both tell us that two of the young men who carried 
the Branches were dressed as women. Plutarch, as we have seen, 
explains the custom by an aetiological myth of more than usual 
foolishness. Modern commentators are not much more successful. 
The common sense or naive school sees in the interchange of 
dress between the sexes a prolepsis of the 'Arry and Arriet' 
hilarity of Hampstead Heath. Others think that in the supposed 
women's dress we may see simply a survival of Ionian priestly 
vestments. Dr Frazer 1 justly observes that, in an obscure and 
complex problem like that of the religious interchange of dress 
between men and women, it is unlikely that any single solution 
would apply to all the cases 2 . 

Such a figure of an Oschophoros disguised probably as a 
woman is, I think, preserved for us in the design in Fig. 94 from the 
interior of a red-figured cylix 3 of the fine period. The scene takes 
place before a temple, indicated by the column to the right. A 
youth or maiden — the doubt is instructive — stands near to a great 
lekane or laver which, as often, stands on a short pillar supported 
by a basis. The horned object on the basis is probably part of a 
basket of a type not uncommon in ritual use. The same shape of 
basket is carried by the boy on the relief in Fig. 87. The youth 
or maiden has hair elaborately long, and on the head is a diadem 

1 Adonis, Attis and Osiris, Appendix tv., on Priests dressed as Women. See also 
Mannhardt, Wald- und Feldhulte, p. 253, and Baumkultus, 203. Prof. Murray 
reminds me that Pentheus in his woman's robe imitated " the gait of Ino or of 

/ Agave my mother,'' Eur. Bacch. 925. 

2 Of the general problem of interchange of dress a solution is offered in chapter 
xi. In the particular case before us it seems to me just possible that the two youths 
disguised as women may represent really a woman and a youth, a mother and a 
young son. The parts of women in rural mimes are still to-day taken in Greece by 
men disguised. Men assumed women's parts in the classical theatre : the reason 
for this, to our minds, ugly practice is obscure, but the facts remain. If we 
suppose the two first figures of the procession of Branch-Bearers (preceded only 
by the herald) to have been Mother and Son, their dress might not be clearly 
distinguishable. Diouysos the son par excellence was effeminate in guise and gait. 
The Son before he leaves his Mother is a woman-thing. The racers would race 
either naked or but lightly clad, but the two who became personae might, once the 
contest over, assume ritual garb as Mother and Son. 

3 See Hauser, Philologus, liv. (1895), p. 385. 


The Oschophoroi 


with leaf-sprays. The robe is manifestly a ritual vestment : its 
elaborate decoration reminds us of the robe worn by Demeter at 
Eleusis on the Hieron vase 1 . The lekane is filled with water. The 
youth (or maiden) is, it may be, about to plunge the great bough 
into the water. Is it for a rain-charm, or will he asperge the 
people ? We cannot say. One thing, and perhaps only one, is 
certain : the figure, be it maid or man, is a Thallophoros, possibly 
an Oschophoros, though no grape-bunches are depicted. 

The moral of Plutarch's clumsy aetiological tale is clear ; had 
it been made for our purpose it could scarcely have been clearer. 

Fig. 94. 

It embodies the very act of transition from the periodic festival 
with its Eniautos-daimon to the cult of the individual hero ; from, 
in a word, the functionary to the personality. It is along this 
well-trodden road that each and every hero, each and every god, 
must travel before the parting of their ways. 

There is competition among the saga-heroes as to who shall 
seize the function-festival for his own. Plutarch, as usual, is 
instructive through his very naivete. Some said that the cere- 
monies of Pyanepsion ' began to be done on account of the 

1 Prolegomena, p. 556, Fig. 158. 

326 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

Heracleidae 1 who were thus nurtured by the Athenians, but 
the greater number agree with the above.' 

Theseus, the individual hero, for reasons political now lost to 
us, won and survived, though when we read the shifts to which 
Plutarch is put to ' do him honour ' we feel his triumph is a sorry 
one. But honest Plutarch' 2 knew and cannot conceal that the 
rites were really in the hands not of an individual hero, but a 
group, a gens, the Phytalidae, the ' Plant-Men.' Very fitly did 
such a group hold presidency over harvest ceremonies : their 
function was to promote the fertility of all growths fit for human 
food. The group of the Phytalidae project of course an eponymous 
hero Phytalos, Plant Man. Phytalos received Demeter into his 
house, as Ikarios ' received ' Dionysos ; she gave him for guerdon 
the gift of the fig-tree 3 . Translated into the language of fact, 
this means that the group of the Plant-Men at one time or 
another began cultivating the fig, a tree which seems long to 
have preceded in Greece the culture of the vine. 

Pausanias 4 saw — and the sight is for us instructive — the 
sepulchre of Phytalos, and on it was an inscription : 

Here the lordly hero Phytalos once received the august 

Demeter, when she first revealed the autumnal fruit 

Which the race of mortals names the sacred fig ; 

Since when the race of Phytalos hath received honours that wax not old. 

Phytalos is lord (aval;) and hero (r/pws), and he has a tomb 
(t«(£o9), but does even the wildest Euhemerist dream that he ever 
existed ? The writer of the epitaph knew that he was the merest 
eponym ; it is the race (yevos) of Phytalos, not the individual hero, 
that has deathless honours. 

The climax of a preposterous aetiology is reached by Plutarch 5 
in commenting on the Phytalidae. He knows of them and their 
local presidency; knows of their tribal contribution to the cere- 
monial house by house feast which Theseus took to himself; and 
what does he say ? ' The Phytalidae superintended the sacrifice, 
Theseus having handed it over to them in return for their Jiosjntality.' 
Very handsome of him, for it was the gens of the Phytalidae who 

1 For Herakles as arch-hero see infra, p. 36i. - Op. tit. xxiii. sub Jin. 

3 Paus. i. 37. 2. 4 i. 37. 2, trans. Frazer. 

5 'E^Tjpedr] 8e Kai rip.evo's avrip *ai tovs cltto twv irapaax^vrtov • rbv 8acr/j.6v olkuv £ra£ev 
eis dvaiav airy reXelv airo<popas ' Kai 7-775 dvaias eire/j-eXovvTO QvraXldai, Or/aius dwodovTO's 
avTOis a/JLOtfirjv ttjs <pi\o^€vias. 

vni] Analysis of Term 'Mythos' 327 

first received or purified him on his entry into Athens. The real 
functional tribal eponym, Phytalos, fades before the saga-personality 

Theseus indeed marks, as already noted, the period of transi- 
tion between the group and the individual, the functionary, the 
basileus and the individual historic or saga-chief. Theseus is a 
king's son, but he lets go the kingship (ftcurikeiav a^et?). He is 
the hero of the new democracy whose basis is individuality. It 
is this swift transit from the group to the individual, from the 
function to the person, that is, as will later become clear, at once 
the weakness and the strength of the religion of the Greek. The 
individual is a frail light bark to launch upon a perilous sea. 
But the Sibyl bade the Athenian, who let the kingship slip, take 
courage : 

The wine-skin wins its way upon the waves 1 . 

Theseus, then, the saga-hero, the quasi-historical personality, 
took on the life-history, the year-history of a fertility -daimon, that 
daimon himself, figured by the youth with the Eiresione, having as- 
similated another daimon, him of the grape — Dionysos. It remains 
to ask — What are the factors, the actual elements, the events in 
the life-history of an Eniautos-daimon* ? What is his mythosl 
And first, what precisely do we mean by a mythos ? 

The Mythos. 

A myth is to us now-a-days a ' purely fictitious narrative 15 .' 
When we say a thing is ' mythical ' we mean it is non-existent. 
We have travelled in this matter far from ancient thinking and 

1 Pint. VU. Thrs. XXIV. 

&(tk6s yap iv ot'5/xan irovToiropevaai. 
ToOro 8e /ecu 2i/3uX\ae varepov airoffTOixaTiaai wp'os ttjv ttoKiv IdTopovaiv ava^dty^a/xiv^v 
'A'Tkos /3a7rrij"77 ' Bvvai 54 tol ov $ eariv. 

- To avoid misunderstanding I ought perhaps to state clearly at this point that 
the phrase eviavrbs daL/xwv is so far as I know never used by the Greeks. They 
called their year-daimones by different names in different places. In Boeotia he 
wus Agathos Daimon, in Crete Mer/intos Kouros, at Eleusis Plouton. Our earliest 
literary evidence for Eniautos as a definite personality is probably Pindar, Paean, 
I. 5 TravreXris 'EiViaiiTds, 'ilpai re Qepuyovot. See infra, chapter xi. 

:i See the excellent definition in Murrav's English Dictionary. 'A purely 
fictitious narrative usually involving supernaturnl persons, actions or events, 
and embodying some popular idea concerning natural or historical phenomena.' 
A myth is essentially 'popular,' i.e collective, not the product of an individual 
brain, it has to do with daimones, i.e. involves the 'supernatural,' it blends the 
historical and the natural in a waj* to be observed later. 

328 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

feeling. A mythos to the Greek was primarily just a thing spoken, 
uttered by the mouth 1 . Its antithesis or rather correlative is the 
thing done, enacted, the ergon or work. Old Phoinix says to 
Achilles ' Thy father Peleus sent me to thee to teach thee to be 

Of words the speaker and of deeds the doer 2 .' 

From sounds made by the mouth, to words spoken and thence 
to tale or story told the transition is easy. Always there is the 
same antithesis of speech and action which are but two different 
ways of expressing emotion, two forms of reaction; the mythos, the 
tale told, the action recounted, is contrasted with the action actually 
done. It is from this antithesis that the sense of unreality, non- 
existence gradually arises. 

This primary sense of mythos as simply the thing uttered, 
expressed by speech rather than action, can never, so long as he 
reads his Homer, be forgotten by the literary student. But when 
we come to myth in relation to religion, myth contrasted with 
ritual, we are apt to forget this primary and persistent meaning, 
and much confused thinking is the result. The primary meaning 
of myth in religion is just the same as in early literature; it is 
the spoken correlative of the acted rite, the thing done ; it is to 
Xeyofievov as contrasted with or rather as related to to Sptofxevov': 

Let us take the simplest possible instance in a rite already 
described 4 , in which — the instances are rare— we have recorded 
both act and myth. In the Grizzly Bear Dance of the North 
American Indians the performers shuffle and shamble about like 
a bear in his cave waking from his winter sleep. That is the 

1 Our word mouth and ixvdos are connected, cf. also n^i^ui — all come from the 
root fiu, lat. mu — to make an audible sound by opening or closing the lips, cf. 
n.h.d. Miicke, /xvla, a 'hummer,' and fd>u, iitio-rys; see Prellwitz, Etymologisches 
Worterbitch, 1905, s.v. 

2 II. ix. 443 

/jLvduiv re prjTTJp Zfievai TrpriKTrjpa re ipywv. 

3 Passages dealing with dpwfxeva and \ey6fj.eva are collected by Bergk, Griechisclte 
Literaturgeschichte, 1884, vol. in. p. 4, but be does not distinguish between the 
myth proper and the aetiolotucal myth. Thus in Paus. n. 37. 2 to. Xeyoixeva eirl 
tois 5pwfjLtvois means clearly the story current to account for the rites, whereas in 
Galen, de uau part. vi. 14 oXos ficrda wpos rots Sputxtvois re /ecu Xeyo/j.e'vois virb tQ>v 
iepocpavTwv, the \ey6p.eva. are clearly the myth proper, spoken at the moment of the 
performance. Bergk well remarks that the word drama is never used of these 
Spcbfieva but that Aristotle connects the two in the Poetics (3. 3) 89ei> ko.1 
KaXtlcrdai rives avra (pacnv on ixLtiovvrai dpuivres. 

4 Supra, p. 112. 

viii] The Mythos in the Drommon 329 

action, the hptopuevov. They also at the same time chant the 

words : 

I begin to grow restless in the spring. 

I take my robe, 

My robe is sacred, 

I wander in the summer. 

These are the Xeyn/jueva, the things uttered by the mouth, the 
myths. As man is a speaking as well as a motor animal, any 
complete human ceremony usually contains both elements, speech 
and action, or as the Greeks would put it, we have in a rite t<z 
Spcofxeva and also ra eirl rot? hpwp-evois Xeyofieva. 

It is necessary to emphasize this point because that great 

genius Robertson Smith has here led many of us his weaker 

followers astray. 

'Strictly speaking,' he says 1 , 'mythology was no essential part of ancient 
religion for it had no sacred sanction and no binding force on the worshippers.' 

To Robertson Smith a myth was the ancient equivalent of 

that hated thing, a dogma, only unguarded by sanctions. Had 

it been granted him to tarry awhile among the Iowa Indians or 

among the Zufiis he would have told another tale. An Iowa 

Indian when asked about the myths and traditions of his tribe 

said ■ : 

These are sacred things and I do not like to speak about them, and it is 
not our custom to do so except when we make a feast and collect the people 
and use the sacred pipe. 

A pious man would no more tell out his myths than he would 
dance out his mysteries. Only when the tribe is assembled after 
solemn fasting, and holy smoking, only sometimes in a strange 
archaic tongue and to initiate men or novices after long and 
arduous preparation, can the myth with safety be uttered from 
the mouth ; such is its sanctity, its rtiana. 

In discussing the ' Aetiological Myth 3 ' of the Hymn to the 
Kouretes we noted briefly that a myth is not to begin with and 
necessarily 'aetiological.' Its object is not at first to give a reason; 
that notion is part of the old rationalist fallacy that saw in primi- 
tive man the leisured and eager enquirer bent on research, all 
alive rerum cognoscere causas. When the Grizzly Bear dancer 

1 Religion of the Semites, 1889, p. 19. 

2 Dorsey, Eleventh Annual Report of the American Bureau of Ethnology, 1889-90. 
p. 430. I owe this reference to the admirable chapter on 'Mythology' in Prof. 
Ames's Psychology of Religious Experience, 1910. 

3 Supra, p. 13. 

330 Daimon and Hero [oh. 

utters his myth, says the words, 'I begin to grow restless in the 
spring.' he is not explaining his action — that, if he has any gift 
of observation and mimicry should be clear enough — he only utters 
with his mouth what he enacts with his shambling, shuffling 
feet, the emotions and sensations he feels in relation to the ' most 
Honourable One,' the Bear. It is not until he becomes shy and 
shamefaced instead of proud and confident in his pantomime, 
that, seeking an excuse, he finds it in his myth turned aetiological. 
When the Kouretes lose faith in their power to rear a child ei<? 
eviavrov they go on uttering their myth, but they put it in the 
past tense and interpolate an explanatory conjunction marking the 
decay of faith : 

For here the shielded Nurturers took thee a child immortal. 

We have previously 1 analysed in detail the motor or active 
factor in a rite, the Spcofievov' 2 , we have seen that in its religious 
sense it was not simply a thing done but a thing re-done or pre- 
done; it was commemorative or magical or both. We have also 
noted that it was a thing done under strong emotional excitement 
and clone collectively. All this applies equally to the other factor 
in a rite, the myth. In the religious sense a myth is not merely 
a word spoken ; it is a re-utterance or pre-utterance, it is a focus 
of emotion, and uttered as we have seen collectively or at least 
with collective sanction. It is this collective sanction and solemn 
purpose that differentiate the myth alike from the historical 
narrative and the mere conte or fairy-tale : a myth becomes 
practically a story of magical intent and potency. 

Possibly the first ninth os was simply the interjectional 

utterance mu ; but it is easy to see how rapid the development 

would be from interjection to narrative. Each step in the ritual 

action is shadowed as it were by a fresh interjection, till the 

whole combines into a consecutive tale. Thus to take again a 

simple instance; in the Rutuburi dance described above 3 we have 

a sequence, 

The Blue Squirrel ascends the tree and whistles. 

The plants will be growing and the fruit will be ripening, 

And when it is ripe it falls to the ground, 

1 Supra, p. 42. 

- It is worth noting that the actual word dpw/xevov when it becomes the equiva- 
lent of 'rite' shows that the tendency must have been to emphasize the motor 

3 Supra, p. 112. 

vm] The Eniautos-Mythos 331 

and this sequence is as it were the life-history of the plant or<^ 
the animal to be magically affected; it is the plot of the hp^ptevovy 
for, says Aristotle 1 , in a most instructive definition, 

by myth I mean the arrangement of the incidents. 

When we realize that the myth is the plot of the hpw/xevov we 
no longer wonder that the plot of a drama is called its 'myth.' 

It would be convenient if the use of the word myth could 
be confined 2 to such sequences, such stories as are involved in 
rites. Anyhow the primitive myth, the myth proper, is of this' 
nature, and it is one form of the myth proper that we have now 
to consider, the plot or life-history of the Eniautos-daimon. 
What are its elements and its characteristics ? What if anything 
did it contribute to the plots (puvdoi) of the dramas enacted at 
the Great Dionysia ? If these dramas arose from the Spring 
Bpcofieva some analogies between their respective 'myths' must 
surely be observable. 

The Eniautos-Muthos. 
The elements of the Eniautos myth are few and simple 3 ; its 
main characteristic is its inevitable, periodic monotony. This' 
comes out clearly in the 8pu,p,eva of the Oschophoria. The 
principal factors are : 

(a) A contest (ar/auv). In this case and also in the Karneia j 
and in the Olympic Games the contest is a race to decide who T 5 
shall carry the boughs and wear the crown. 

(b) A pathos, a death or defeat. In the Theseus myth this 
appears in the death of the old king. The pathos is formally f? 
announced by a messenger (ayyeXos) and it is followed or accom- \ 
panied by a lamentation (dprjvos). 

(c) A triumphant Epiphany, an appearance or crowning of 
the victor or the new king, with an abrupt change (Trepnrereia) 

1 Poet. VI. 6 \4yw yap fivdov tovtov ttjv ai'ivOecnv rQ>v Trpay/mdrtav. 

2 Mr van Gennep proposes this in bis interesting paper Was ist Mt/tluix? (Inter- 
nationale Wochenschrift fur Wissenscliaft, KuDst und Technik, Sept. 1910, p. 1167). 
His definition of myth is as follows: 'Der Mythus ist eine Erzahlung, die allge- 
meine und regehnassig wechselmle und sich wiederholende Erscheinuugen darstellt 
und deren Bestandteile sich in gleicher Sequenz durch religiosmagische Handlungen 
(Hi ten) aussern. ' 

3 I omit the presentation or prologue intioducing the plays as not ritually 
essential and as not noted in the Oschophoria, but it is interesting to find that in 
Mr Chambers' analysis of the Mummers' play (op. cit. i. p. 211) he divides it into 
three parts: the Presentation, the Drama, the Quete. See also Prof. Murray, infra, 
p. 359. 

332 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

from lamentation to rejoicing. In the Theseus rite, we have the 
actual muthoi which marked this shift, Eleleu lou lou 1 . 

The Spoti/xevov may of course take a somewhat simplified form. 
Thus the Kathodos and Anodos of Kore 2 omits the agon, but 
probably in all cases where a human representative had to be 
chosen, a leader or king, the contest element was present. 
It is surely a fact of the highest significance that the Greek word 
for actor is agonistes, contester. The shift from sorrow to joy was 
integral because it was the mimetic presentation of the death of 
the Old Year, the birth of the New. To seek for a threnos we 
need not go to a hero's tomb. 

To have a fixed ritual form imposed is, like the using of a 
beautiful, difficult rhythm — an impediment to the weak, a great 
and golden opportunity to the strong. But a ritual form, how- 
ever solemn and significant, does not, and did not make great 
drama. We see that clearly enough in the folk-plays, that, as 
they were before the drama, so have long out-lasted it. With 
extraordinary tenacity the old form maintains itself as in the 
Carnival plays observed by Mr Dawkins 3 in Thrace and by 
Mr Wace 4 in Thessaly and Macedonia. They are nothing but 
the life-history of a fertility-daimon ; the story is more complete 
than in the Oschophoria ; it takes the daimon from the cradle to 
the grave and back again, to life and marriage. Mr Wace from 
many scattered and fragmentary festivals constructs the full 
original somewhat as follows : 

An old woman first appears nursing her baby in her arms, and this child 
is in some way or other peculiar. He grows up quickly and demands a bride. 
A bride is found for him, and the wedding is celebrated, but during the wedding 
festivities he quarrels with one of his companions, who attempts to molest the 
bride, and is killed. He is then lamented by his bride, and miraculously 
restored to life. The interrupted festivities are resumed, and the marriage is 

1 Supra, p. 318. 

2 Such simplified 5pw,ueea are the Thesmophoria, where we hear of no agon, the 
Charila at Delphi (infra, p. 416), the summoning of Dionvsos by trumpets from the 
abyss at Lerna. Sometimes the agon is apparently the chief element in the rite as 
at the Lithobolia at Eleusis. Sometimes it is softened to a mere XoiSopla, as in the 

:i R. M. Dawkins, The Modern Carnival in Thrace and the Cult of Dionysos, 
J. H. S. xxvi. 1906, p. 191. Mr Dawkins' attention was drawn to this festival by 
Mr G. M. Vizyenos, a native of Viza (the ancient Bifuy), which is about two hours 
west of Haghios Gheorghios, where the festival is now celebrated. Mr Vizyenos 
had seen the festival as a boy some forty years before it was observed by 
Mr Dawkins. 

4 In a paper to be published in the forthcoming Annual of the British School, 
of which Mr Wace has very kindly allowed me to see a proof. 

mi] Carnival Plays 333 

To attempt a close parallel with the ancient cult of Dionysos \ 
is, I think, scarcely worth while, though analogies like the baby 
in arms or in the cradle to Liknites are obvious. We are dealing 
with material that long preceded and long outlasts the worship of 
my Olympian, the disjecta membra of the life-history of a year-god 
)r fertility-daimow. He is a babe ; he has, probably at his initiation, 
i death and resurrection ; he is married. The cycle of his life is 
eternally monotonous, perennially magical. 

The monotony of these folk-plays is almost intolerable, and 
f we were asked to see in them the germ of all the life and 
splendour and variety of Attic drama we might rightly rebel ; 
3ut we are not. What the hpwfieva of the Eniautos-da.imon gave 
;o Attic drama was, not its content, but its ritual form, a form 
ivhich may be ^formed by beauty or by ugliness, according as it 
s used by an imagination clean or coarse. 

That the form is really the life-history of a fertility -daimon, 
md its intent, like the ritual of the daimon, strictly magical 
is shown beyond doubt by the concluding words of the Thracian 
ceremony : 

Barley three piastres the bushel. Amen, God, that the poor may eat ! 
STea, O God, that poor folk may be tilled. 

That the daimon impersonated is the Eniautos- daimon is no 
ess clear. At one point in the concluding ceremonies Mr Dawkins 
bells us : 

All the implements used were thrown high into the air with cries ' Km 
rov xpovov,' ' Next year also.' 

It would be tedious and unprofitable for our argument to 
multiply instances of these folk-plays which last on in the remoter 
jorners of Europe to-day 1 . They are tenacious of life because 
they are still held to be magical — the playing of them brings 

1 They have been collected and discussed by Mr E. K. Chambers in bis in- 
valuable book The Mediaeval Stage, 1903, vol. i. Book n. Folk Drama. Everywhere, 
be points out, we have the contest, our agon, which in the eighth century crystallized 
into the Conjlictus Veris et Hiemis, and the death and resurrection mime from 
which, in the form of the Easter trope Quern Quaeritis, mediaeval drama sprang. 
The subject has been so fully and admirably treated by Mr Chambers that I will 
only note here that we could have no simpler or more significant instance of a 
death and resurrection Spwfxevov than the Quern Quaeritis with its mythos in dialogue : 

Quem quaeritis in sepulchro, [o] Christicolae? 

Iesum Nazarenum crucifixum, o caelicolae. 

Non est hie, surrexit sicut praedixerat. 

Ite, nuntiate, quia surrexit de sepulchro. 
The function of the <xY7e\os is here specially clear. The agon is absent. 

334 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

luck to the village for the season, and they are popular because 
they invariably end with a quete. They are intolerant of develop- 
ment because of their periodic nature, and fixed factors — the fight, 
the death, the resurrection, on which this ' luck ' inherently and 
essentially depends. 

The mythos, the plot which is the life-history of an Eniautos- 
daimon, whether performed in winter, spring, summer or autumn, 
is thus doomed by its monotony to sterility. What is wanted 
is material cast in less rigid mould ; in a word Xeyo/xeva not 
bound by hpwfxeva, plots that have cut themselves loose from 
rites. The dithyramb, which was but the periodic festival of the 
spring renouveau, broke and blossomed so swiftly into the Attic 
drama because it found such plots to hand ; in a word — the forms 
of Attic drama are the forms of the life-history of an Eniautos- 
daimon; the content is the infinite variety of free and individualized. * 
heroic saga — in the largest sense of the ivord 'Homer 1 .' 

The Homeric Saga. 

We are perhaps tired of being told that zEschylus 2 said his 
tragedies were ' slices from the great banquets of Homer,' and we 
feel the ugly metaphor is worthier of the learned and ingenious 
Diners who record it than of the poet on whom it is fathered. 
Yet the metaphor is instructive. The plots of Attic drama are 
things cut off {reixd^n). They are mythoi that have worked 
themselves loose from the cults of which they were once the 
spoken utterance 3 , and are thereby material to be freely moulded 
at the artist's will. 

1 Following Dieterich rather than Prof. Ridgeway, I had long vaguely held tbat 
the threnos and peripeteia of Greek tragedy arose from mysteries based on the death 
and resurrection of the year rather than from the tomb-ritual of any mere, historical 
hero. But I date my definite enquiry into the daimonic origin of these forms from a 
lecture On the Form and Technique of Greek Tragedy delivered by Prof. Murray at 
Oxford in the Easter term of 1910. For detailed and to me conclusive evidence I am 
now able to refer to the Excursus which Prof. Murray has with great kindness 
appended to this chapter and which embodies the result of his independent 
investigations. By tbe kindness of Dr M. P. Nilsson I have just received a pre- 
print of his valuable monograph, Der Ur sprung der Tragodie, which appears in 
Ilberg's Neue Jahrbiieher fur das klassische Altertumsgeschichte und deutsche 
Literatur, xxvu. 9, p. 609. 

- Athen. vm. 39. 347 ot'5' ewi vovv j3a.XX6fj.evos to. tov kclXov nai Xafnrpov Aio~x i 'Xov, 
5s ras clvtov rpaywdias re/xaxv ttvai i-Xeye timv Ofx-qpov fj.eyd.Xiov 8eiirvoov. 

3 I am aware of course that these 'tied' mythoi, even while they were tied, 
attached to themselves a certain amount of floating historical legend. This has 
been very well shown by Mr Chambers (op. cit.) in his account of the various local 
elements of folk story attracted by the Mummers' play, vol. i. p. 211. 

viii] The Homeric Saga 335 

It may have surprised some readers that in our long discussion 
of ' heroes ' there has been no mention of Homer, who sings heroic 
deeds. The reason is clear. If my contention be right that the cult / 
of the collective daimon, the king and the fertility-spirit is primary, ) " 
Homer's conception of the hero as the gallant individual, the soldier ^ 
of fortune or the gentleman of property, is secondary and late. — 
It has again and again been observed that in Homer we have no 
magic and no cult of the dead. Our examination of the Anthesteria 
has shown us that, for Greece as for Central Australia, the two were 
indissolubly connected. Homer marks a stage when collective! 
thinking 1 and magical ritual are, if not dead, at least dying, when/ 
rationalism, and the individualistic thinking to which it belongs are 
developed to a point not far behind that of the days of Perikles. ' 
Homer's attitude towards religion is sceptical, Ionian' 2 . 

What is meant by the 'individualism' of Homer is seen 
very clearly in the case of the androktasiai or 'm an-slaying s.' 
Dr Bethe 3 has shown beyond the possibility of a doubt that the 
somewhat superabundant androktasiai which appear as single 
combats in the Iliad really reflect not the fights of individual I 
heroes at Troy, but the conflicts of tribes on the mainland o 
Greece. When the tribes who waged this warfare on the main Ian 
pass in the long series of Migrations to Asia Minor and the islands, 
the local sanctities from which they are cut loose are forgotten, 
and local daimones, eponymous heroes and the like become indi- 
vidualized Saga-heroes. Achilles and Alexandras are tribal heroes, 
that is collective conceptions, of conflicting tribes in Thessaly. 
Hector before, not after, he went to Troy was a hero-daimon in 
Boeotian Thebes ; his comrade Melanippos had a cult in Thebes, 
Patroklos whom he slew was his near neighbour, like him a local I 
daimon. It is the life-stories of heroes such as these, cut loose by \ 
the Migrations from their local cults, freed from their monotonous I 
periodicity, that are the material of Attic drama, that form its J 
free and plastic plots. 

1 The connection of collective thinking with magic and of individualism with 
the Olympian system will be discussed in the next chapter. 

'-' For this whole subject and the contrast of Homer's attitude with that of 
iEsckylus see Prof. Murray, Rise of the Greek Epic, Ionia and Attica. 

3 Homer und die Heldensage. Die Saije vom Troischen Kriege, in Sitzuugs- 
berichte d. k. Pr. Ak. d. Wissenschaften, phil.-hist. KL, 1902. English readers will 
find the dvfipoKT&aiai fully discussed on the basis of Dr Bethe's researches in 
Prof. Murray's Rise of the Greek Epic, p. 195. Prof. Murray accepts Dr Bethe's 
conclusions and adds much to their significance. 

336 Daimon and Hero [ch. 

The enquiry of the date of this influx of heroic saga belongs to 
the Homeric Question and is beyond alike my scope and my com- 
/"petence. When and how the old forms of the daimon-drama were 
) replenished by the newly imported Ionic epos can only be 
(conjectured. If conjecture be permissible I should imagine that 
the Pot-Contests (^vrptt'oi dyayves) of the Anthesteria were, from 
time immemorial, of the old daimon type. When Peisistratos 
ordained the recitation of " Homer " at the Panathenaea, the influ- 
ence of the epos on the rude dramatic art of the time must have 
been immediately felt, and it only needed the birth of an iEschylus 
to make him seize on the Tefidxv that lay so close to hand. He 
or his predecessors took of necessity the prescrTrjecT form, the life- 
history of the daimon, and filled it with a new content, the story of 
a daimon de- daimonized ; an Agamemnon who though he was a 
tribal daimon at home was an i ndividu al hero before the walls 
of Troy. 

The local daimons of Thessaly and Boeotia and the Peloponnese 

were cte-daimonized by the Migrations; that is easily understood. 

But once the fashion set, once the rationalizing story-telling 

tendency started, once the interest in the local daimon and his 

magical efficacy diminished, and even those stationary daimons 

whose tribes never migrated, became de-daimonized, individualized. 

Hippolytos, son of Theseus, is a clear and very instructive case. 

He has a local cult at Trozen, later by some shift of population 

taken in at Athens, but to the drama he is wholly human, the 

hero of a widespread folk-tale. Yet even drama cannot wholly 

forget the daimon-functionary, and Euripides 1 , by the mouth of 

Artemis, tells us the manner of his cult. 

Yea and to thee, for this sore travail's sake, 
Honours most high in Trozen will I make, 
For yokeless maids before their bridal night 
Shall shear for thee their tresses. 

Pausanias 2 confirms Euripides; he tells us that at Trozen 

A precinct of great renown is consecrated to Hippolytos son of Theseus ; 
it contains a temple and an ancient image.... There is a priest of Hippolytos 

1 Hipp. 1424: 

Ti/xas p-eylcrras iv 7r6Xet Tpofyvia 
Sdiacj " Kopai yap d^vyes ydixwv Trdpos 
k-6/j.o.s Kepovvral <roi, 5t' aiQvos (j.a.Kpov 
irivdr] /xeyiara danpuiov Kapirovixiv^. 

2 i. 32. 1, Frazer. 


Hippolytos as Kouros 


ftJr^n^ f ° r H f e ' an <* there «« annual sacrifices. Further 

lif" ^.following custom. Every maiden before marriaoe shears 

ft t the tempt 1 " ^ Hl ^^ t0S > a " d take * ^ ^ lock and fedTcSS 

Hippolytos is indeed, in a sense that has hitherto escaped us 
the Megistos Kouros, 'He of the Shorn-Hair* '-the daimon of 
initiation ceremonies, of the rite de passage from virginity to 
virility. The plot, the rnythos of the Hippolytos utters things 
older and deeper than any ugly tale, however ancient, of\ 
rotiphar's wife. 

In the relief* m Fig. 95 we have a monument of Hippolytos. 

Fig. 95. 

He is figured as a young hero with a horse, a knight like the 
daimones of the Hero-Feasts. His dog is with him to mark him 
as a human huntsman. But the hero-daimon is not forgotten. 

L ™«*„™%^^^??* all0 T W h S - * «*■ - advance his view 
by the ancients spp f? 1, * Ame oot " K «P W - Thls had of course been guessed 



Daimon and Hero 



Just m front of the horse is a low altar, an eschara, the kind in 
use for ■ heroes ' : a worshipper approaches. Moreover the figures 
in the background show clearly to what company Hippolytos 
belongs. Asklepios who, as we shall see in the next chapter, was 
but a daimon half crystallized into a god. Aphrodite Pandemos 
to the left, and between them the temple of Themis 1 . 

In the case of Hippolytos we know precisely where was his 
local cult, and from his ritual we can partly see how the tragedy 
of Euripides arose from his annual muthos. More often the con- 

Fig. 96. 

nection escapes us. We have the record of a local cult and we 
have the finished dramatic figure but the links are lost Ihe 
relief in Fig. 96 presents us with the two factors baldly and 
blankly juxtaposed without attempt at reconciliation. To the 
left we have a warrior like Hippolytos leading a horse to the 
right the daimon-snake. The artist himself was probably at 
a loss to establish a connection; anyhow he does not attempt it. 
The horseman takes no notice of the snake; the snake, serenely 

. For these local divinities of the south slope of the Acropolis see Prolegomen 
p. 354. 

vm] Daimon-Ritual and Homeric-Saga 339 

coiled, is indifferent to the horseman. They are of two alien 

If with this relief to help us we bear in mind these two factors, i 
the old daimonic, magical ritual which lent the forms, the new f 
' Homeric ' saga which lent the heroic content, the relation of the 
drama to the worship of Dionysos and also to the worship of the ! 
dead becomes, I think, fairly clear. The plays were performed in 
the theatre of Dionysos, in the precinct of the god, his image 
was present in the theatre, the chorus danced round his altar, \ 
his priest sat in the front and central seat among the spectators. 
In the face of facts so plain it seems to me impossible that the 
drama had its roots elsewhere than in the worship of Dionysos 1 . 
Aristotle is right, ' tragedy arose from leaders of the Dithyramb 2 .' 
Of any connection with the tomb and obsequies of an actual dead 
Athenian hero there is not a particle of evidence. But, Dionysos 
is a daimon, he is the daimon, of death and resurrection, of re- 
incarnation, of the renouveau of the spring, and that renouveau, 
that reincarnation, was of man as well as nature. In the Anthesteria, 
the Blossoming of Plants and the Revocation of Ghosts are one 
and the same, but they are universal, of ancestors, not of one 
particular dead ancestor. 

We left the problem of one scene (Fig. 31) on the Hagia 
Triada sarcophagos unsolved and the solution now comes of itself. 
The figure standing in front of the building is not, I think, 
a god, not Dionysos Dendrites, nor is he a man, a particular dead 
individual who is having a funeral at the moment. Rather he is 
a daimon-hero, and the building before which he stands is a 
heroon, like the heroon of the Agathos Daimon at Thebes. He 
may be a dead king, if so he is worshipped as a functionary, 
a fertility-daimon not as an individual ; he is like Cecrops, like 
Erichthonios. He is certainly I think a kouros like in youth and 

1 For a full statement of this, Prof. Ridgeway's view, see his Origin of Tragedy, 

2 Supra, p. 32. The difficult question of ichen and how the incoming Thracian 
daimon Dionysos came to dominate the local Agathos Daimon I leave here un- 
answered. I have elsewhere (Proleg. pp. 557 and 571) suggested that Dionysos 
may have come to Athens by way of Delphi and Eleusis. For the possible influence 
of the Mysteries on drama see A. Dieterich's 'epoch-making' Die Entstehung der 
Tragbdie in Archiv f. Religionswissenschaft, 1908, p. 164. 


340 Daimon and Hero [ch. vm 

strength to the kouroi who approach him with offerings, only stiff 
and somewhat xoanon-like as becomes one who is a daimon not 
a man. Over his forehead hangs a long single curl which may 
well characterize him as ephebos 1 . Near him is his holy tree, sign 
and symbol of the life and function of an Agathos Daimon. To 
him, as Eniautos-daimon, are brought offerings of young bulls 
and a new-moon boat, not a service of do ut des, not as gifts to 
persuade, but rather magically to induce- him : and, in his honour 
with like intent, is played out the renouveau of bird and tree, 
the mimic drama of the Dithyramb. 

We have watched the making of a daimon-hero out of vaguer 
sanctities ; in the next chapter we shall see the daimon-hero 
crystallize, individualize into a god. 

1 See supra, p. 337, note 1. 

2 Even, perhaps, magically to bring him to life. The figure of the Kouros, as 
noted above, has a htiff, half-lifeless look. We may compare the figure of Pandora 
the Earth-Goddess as she appears on the Bayle cylix in the British Museum (see 
my Myth, and Mom. of Anc. Athens, p. 450, Fig. 50). The 'Birth' and 'Making' 
of Pandora are but mythological presentations of the renouveau of earth in the 
spring. For the analogous Anodos vases see infra, p. 418. 


The following note presupposes certain general views about 
the origin and essential nature of Greek Tragedy. It assumes 
that Tragedy is in^origin a Ritual Dance, a Sacer Lucius, repre- 
senting normally the Aition, or supposed historical _ Cause, of 
some current ritual practice : e.g. the Hippolytus represents the 
legendary death of that hero, regarded as the Aition of a certain , 
ritual lamentation practised by the maidens of Trozen. Further, it 
assumes, in accord with the overwhelming weight of ancient 
tradition, that the Dance in question is originally or centrally 
that of Dionysus ; and it regards Dionysus, in this connection, 
as the spirit of the Dithyramb or Spring Dromenon (see above, 
Chapter VI.), an ' Eniautos-Daimon,' who represents the cyclic 
death and rebirth of the world, including the rebirth of the 
tribe by the return of the heroes or dead ancestors. 

These conceptions, it will be seen, are in general agreement with 
the recent work of Dieterich (Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft, 
xi. pp. 163—196), also with that of Usener (ib. vn. pp. 303—313), 
as developed by Dr Farnell (Cults, vol. v. p. 235, note a), 
and the indications of the Macedonian mummeries described by 
Mr Dawkins and others. I must also acknowledge a large debt to 
Prof. Ridgewa}r's Tomb-theory, the more so since I ultimately 
differ from him on the main question, and seek to show that 
certain features in tragedy which he regards as markedly foreign 
to Dionysus-worship are in reality natural expressions of it. 

It is of course clear that Tragedy, as we possess it, contains 
many non-Dionysiac elements. The ancients themselves have 
warned us of that. It has been influenced by the epic, by hero 
cults, and by various ceremonies not connected with Dionysus. 
Indeed the actual Aition treated in tragedy is seldom confessedly 
and obviously Dionysiac. It is so sometimes, as sometimes it is 
the founding of a torch-race or the original reception of sup- 
pliants at some altar of sanctuary. But it is much more often 

342 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

the death or Pathos of some hero. Indeed I think it can be 
shown that every extant tragedy contains somewhere towards 
the end the celebration of a tabu tomb. This point we must 
gladly concede to Professor Ridgeway. I wish to suggest, how- 
ever, that while the content has strayed far from Dionysus, the 
forms of tragedy retain clear traces of the original drama of the 
Death and Rebirth of the Year Spirit. 

Dieterich has already shown that a characteristic of the Sacer 
Ludus in the mysteries was a Peripeteia, or Reversal. It was a 
change from sorrow to joy, from darkness and sights of inexplicable 
terror to light and the discovery of the reborn God. Such a 
Peripeteia is clearly associated with an Anagnorisis, a Recognition 
or Discovery. Such formulae from the mysteries as SapaeiTe, 
Mutrrai, tov Oeov aeawafievov — Hvpy']Ka/xev, avy^alpofjuev — 
"Kcpuyop kcikov, -qvpov afxetvov, imply a close connection between 
the Peripeteia and the Anagnorisis, and enable us to understand 
why these two elements are regarded by Aristotle as normally 
belonging to Tragedy. Now Peripeteia of some kind is perhaps 
in itself a necessary or normal part of any dramatic story. But no 
one could say the same of Anagnorisis. It must come into Greek 
tragedy from the Sacer Ludus, in which the dead God is Recognized 
or Discovered. 

So far Dieterich. But we may go much further than this. If 
we examine the kind of myth which seems to underly the various 
' Eniautos ' celebrations we shall find : 

1. An Agon or Contest, the Year against its enemy, Light 
against Darkness, Summer against Winter. 

2. A Pathos of the Year-Daimon, generally a ritual or 
sacrificial death, in which Adonis or Attis is slain by the tabu 
animal, the Pharmakos stoned, Osiris, Dionysus, Pentheus, Orpheus, 
Hippolytus torn to pieces (a7rapa<y/jL6<;). 

3. A Messenger. For this Pathos seems seldom or never to 
be actually performed under the eyes of the audience. (The 
reason of this is not hard to suggest.) It is announced by a 
messenger. ' The news comes ' that Pan the Great, Thammuz, 
Adonis, Osiris is dead, and the dead body is often brought in on a 
bier, This leads to 

4. A Threnos or Lamentation. Specially characteristic, how- 
ever, is a clash of contrary emotions, the death of the old being 

The Satyrs and the Peripeteia 

also the triumph of the new : see p. 318 f., on Plutarc 
of the Oschophoria. 

5 and 6. An Anagnorisis — discovery or recogniti* 
slain and mutilated Daimon, followed by his Resurrection or 
Apotheosis or, in some sense, his Epiphany in glory. This I shall 
call by the general name Theophany. It naturally goes with a 
Peripeteia or extreme change of feeling from grief to joy. 

Observe the sequence in which these should normally occur : 
Agon, Pathos, Messenger, Threnos, Theophany, or, we might say, 
Anagnorisis and Theophany. 

First, however, there is a difficulty to clear away. The 
Peripeteia which occurs in tragedy, as we have it, is not usually 
from grief to joy but, on the contrary, from joy to grief, which 
seems wrong. Our tragedies normally end with a comforting 
theophany but not with an outburst of joy. — No, but it looks as if 
they once did. We know that they were in early times composed 
in tetralogies consisting of three tragedies and a Satyr-play. 

This is no place to discuss the Satyr-play at length. But 
those who have read Miss Harrison's article on the Kouretes 
(B.8.A. XV. and Chapter l. above) will recognize that the Satyrs 
are the irpoiroXoi 8aip.oi>e<; in the rout of Dionysus, especially 
associated with his ' initiations and hierourgiai ' — that is, exactly 
z with our Sacer Ludus of Dionysus. Strabo, pp. 466 — 8, makes 
this pretty clear. Hence comes their connection with the dead 
and with the anodos of Kore. The subject could easily be 
illustrated at length, but probably the above point, as it stands, 
will hardly be disputed. The Satyr-play, coming at the end of 
the tetralogy, represented the joyous arrival of the Reliving 
Dionysus and his rout of attendant daimones at the end of the 
Sacer Ludus. 

It has however been argued, and by so high an authority as 

Mr Pickard-Cambridge 1 , that the Satyr-play though very early 

associated with tragedy was not so in its first origin. He points 

out that no Satyr-plays are attributed to Thespis, that it is 

difficult to make out tetralogies for any writer before Aeschylus, 

and that it was Pratinas who irpwTos eypayjre -arvpovs (Suidas). 

1 In a public lecture at Oxford in 1910. It may be worth mentioning that 
the new fragments of Sophocles' Ichneutae (Oxyrhyncus Papyri, vol. ix.) are 
markedly tragic in metre and diction. 

344 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

I take this to mean that Pratinas was the first person to write 
words for the rout of revelling masquers to learn by heart. 
Thespis, like many early Elizabethans, had been content with a 
general direction : ' Enter Satyrs, in revel, saying anything.' I do 
not, however, wish to combat this view. It would suit my general 
purpose equally well to suppose that the Dionysus-ritual had 
developed into two divergent forms, the satyr-play of Pratinas and 
the tragedy of Thespis, which were at a certain date artificially 
combined by a law. In any case there must have been close 
kindred between the two. The few titles of tragedies by Thespis 
which are preserved, 'lepeh, 'Hldeoi, TlevOevs, $>6p{3a<; r) ^A6\a iirl 
Tie\ia, all bear the mark of the initiation dromenon or Sacer 
Ludus. The Priests ; The Youths, or Kouroi ; Pentheus, the torn 
Dionysus ; Phorbas, the battling King who slew or was slain — 
to a reader of the present volume these tell their own tale. And 
after all Aristotle has told us that Tragedy e'/c rod Xarvpitcov 
fieTe/3a\ev (Poet. 4). It ' developed out of the Satyric ' — at the 
very least, from something akin to the Satyrs. I therefore con- 
tinue — provisionally — to accept as a starting-point some tragic 
performance ending in a satyr-play. 

Now we know that in the historical development of Tragedy 
a process of differentiation occurred. The Satyr-play became more 
distinct and separate from the tragedies and was eventually 
dropped altogether ; and, secondly, the separate Tragedies became 
independent artistic wholes. 

This process produced, I conceive, two results. First, the 
cutting-off of the Satyr-play left the tragic trilogy without its 
proper close. What was it to do ? Should it end with a threnos 
and trust for its theophany to the distinct and irrelevant Satyr- 
play which happened to follow? or should it ignore the Satyr-play 
and make a theophany of its own ? Both types of tragedy occur, 
but gradually the second tends to predominate. 

Secondly, what is to happen to the Anagnorisis and Peri- 
peteia ? Their proper place is, as it were, transitional from the 
Threnos of tragedy to the Theophany of the Satyr-play ; if any- 
thing, they go rather with the Satyrs. Hence these two elements 
are set loose. Quite often, even in the tragedies which have a full 
Theophany, they do not occur in their proper place just before the 
Theophany, yet they always continue to haunt the atmosphere. 

Sequence of Ritual I 345 

The poets find it hard to write without brin Anagnorisis 


Before tracing the Forms in detail, let us take some clear and 
typical instances of the sequence of all the five elements together, 
Agon, Pathos, Messenger, Threnos, Theophany. I take three plays 
which, though not early, are very strict in structure, and I begin with 
the Bacchae. For, if there is any truth in this theory at all, our one 
confessedly Dionysiac play ought to afford the most crucial test of it. 

The latter half of the Bacchae divides itself thus : 

787—976. A long Agon, divided by a Choric dance, 862—911. 
Dionysus pleads with Pentheus in vain, then at 819 begins to 
exert the Bacchic influence upon him till Pentheus follows him 
into the house, already half-conquered : after the Chorus, the two 
come out, the Contest already decided and Pentheus in his 
conqueror's power ; they go out to the mountain. 

Chorus, then 1024 — 1152 Pathos, 1.7rapayfio<; of Pentheus, nar- 
rated by a Messenger and received with violent clash of emotion. 

1153 — 1329. Elaborate Threnos, which consists first of a mad 
dance of triumph dvrl Oprjvov, then of a long Threnos proper, and j 
contains in the midst of it — exactly in the proper place — the 
collection of the fragments of Pentheus' body and the Anagnorisis/ 
of him by Agave. 

1330, or rather in the gap before 1330. Epiphany of Dionysus. 

Now, when we remember that Pentheus is only another form 
of Dionysus himself — like Zagreus, Orpheus, Osiris and the other 
daimons who are torn in pieces and put together again — we can 
see that the Bacchae is simply the old Sacer Ludus itself, scarcely 
changed at all, except for the doubling of the hero into himself 
and his enemy. We have the whole sequence : Agon, Pathos and 
Messenger, Threnos, Anagnorisis and Peripeteia, and Epiphany. 
The daimon is fought against, torn to pieces, announced as dead, 
wept for, collected and recognized, and revealed in his new divine 
life. The Bacchae is a most instructive instance of the formation 
of drama out of ritual. It shows us how slight a step was necessary 
for Thespis or another to turn the Year-Ritual into real drama. 


902 — 1101. Clear and fierce Agon between Theseus and 

346 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

Short Chorus, Threnos-like. 

1153 — 1267. Lira pay /u.d<i of the Hero by his own horses: 
Pathos, narrated by a Messenger. 

Short Chorus, hymn to Cypris dvrl Op-qvov. 

1283 — end. Epiphany of Artemis, curiously mixed with the 
Threnos, and bringing with it the Anagnorisis (1296 — 1341). 

We are just one step further from the original ritual. For 
who was Hippolytus ? He was, ritually, just another form of the 
same Year-daimon, who is torn to pieces and born again. When 
we remember the resurrection of Hippolytus in legend, we shall 
strongly suspect that in an earlier form of the Hippolytus- 
dromenon there was a resurrection or apotheosis of the hero 
himself together with his protectress Artemis. Drama has gained 
ground upon ritual. Hippolytus has been made a mortal man. 
And we now have a Theophany with Artemis immortal in the air 
and Hippolytus dying on the earth. 


547 — 765. Agon betAveen Peleus and Menelaus. 

An interrupting scene containing the appearance of Orestes 
and flight of Hermione ; Chorus. 

1070 — 1165. Pathos — stoning — narrated by Messenger. 

1166—1225. Threnos. 

1226. Theophany of Thetis, bringing comfort. 

The Theophanies of Euripides almost always bring comfort, 
and thus conserve an element of the old Peripeteia from grief to 
joy. The sequence in the Andromache is very clear, but has one 
interrupting scene. This interrupting scene will find its explana- 
tion later. For the present we merely notice that it is concerned 
with Orestes and that it falls naturally into the following divisions : 
802 — 819, Nurse as Exangelos or Messenger from within; 825 — 
865, Threnos of Hermione ; 879 — 1008, Appearance of Orestes, 
who saves and comforts Hermione, and expounds the death of 
Neoptolemus, which is the Aition of the play. See below p. 356. 

The above cases are merely illustrations of the way in which 
the Dionysus ritual has adapted itself to the reception of heroic 
myths. The chief modification is that other persons and events 
are put into the forms which originally belonged to the Daimon. 
In the Bacchae it is Pentheus who is torn, but Dionvsus who 

Theophany 347 

appears as god. In the Hippolytus, it is not Hippolytus who 
appears as god but Artemis, his patroness. In the Andromache 
the persons are all varied : it is Peleus and Menelaus who have 
the contest ; it is Neoptolemus who is slain and mourned ; it is 
Thetis who appears as divine. 

We will now consider the various Forms, and see how far they 
are constant or usual, and what modifications they undergo. And 
first for the most crucial of them, the Theophany. This subject 
has been excellently treated by Eric Miiller, Be Beorum 
Graecorum Partibus Tragicis, Giessen 1910. 


We all know that most of the extant plays of Euripides end 
with the appearance of a god (Hijjp., Andr., Suppl., Ion, EL, I. T., 
HeL, Or., Bac, I. A., Rhes.). But it has not been observed that 
in this, as in so many of his supposed novelties, Euripides is 
following the tradition of Aeschylus. The reason of this is, first, 
that the technique of Aeschylus is not so clear-cut and formal as 
that of Euripides. His gods do not so definitely proclaim them- 
selves as such, and probably did not appear from quite so effective 
a /xrj-^avrj. Second, and more important, Aeschylus was still 
operating with trilogies, not with single plays, so that his 
Theophanies are normally saved up to the end of the trilogy and 
then occur on a grand scale. 

To take the extant plays first : 

The Oresteia has no gods till the Eumenides (unless we count 
a vision of the Furies at the end of the Choephoroi), but then we 
have a great Theophany of Apollo, Athena and the Furies in 
procession together. 

The Supplices trilogy, Supplices, Aegyptii, Bunaides: we 
know that this ended with an epiphany of Aphrodite, whose 
speech, founding the institution of marriage based on consent, is 
preserved (Nauck, fr. 44). This is evidently a full-dress Theo- 
phany in the style afterwards followed by Euripides, in which the 
god solemnly founds an institution and gives the Aition of the 

The Persae trilogy consisted of the Phinevs, Persae, Glaucus 
(Pontius ?), that is, it seems not to have been a continuous treat- 
ment of one subject leading up to one final Epiphany, like the 

348 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

Oresteia and the Danaid-trilogy. It falls apart into separate 
plays, and each play will be found to have in it some divine or 
supernatural apparition. 

Persae : the Hero or, as he is called, the God (#eo<? 644, &c, 
Zaifxwv 642) Darius is evoked from his sacred tomb. 

Phineus : the end, or at any rate the denouement, of the play 
consisted in the chasing away of the Harpies by the Sons of the 
North-wind — that is, in a great apparition of winged supernatural 

Glaucus Pontius : it contained, probably at the end, a prophecy 
spoken by Glaucus ; and in it Glaucus, half-man, half-beast, 
appeared rising from the sea. (N. 26.) This seems like a regular 
Theophany with a prophecy. (If the third play was the other 
Glaucus, called Potnieus, then we have no evidence.) 

Prometheia Trilogy. This stands somewhat apart for two 
reasons. First, its Aition is not any Year-ritual or Tomb-ritual 
but definitely the institution of the Torch-race at the Prometheia. 
Secondly, all the characters are divine, so that there can hardly 
be question of an epiphany in the ordinary sense. The recon- 
struction of the trilogy is still doubtful, but it seems unlikely that 
the ultimate reconciliation of Prometheus and Zeus can have been 
dramatically carried out without some appearance of Zeus in his 

Theban Trilogy. Laius, Oedipus, Septem. Here we possess 
the third play and it ends not in a Theophany but in a Threnos 1 . 
That is, it belongs to the first type mentioned on p. 344 above. 
The satyr-play belonged to the same cycle of saga. It was called 
Sphinx. It would be interesting to know how Dionysus and his 
train were brought into connexion with the Sphinx and Oedipus 
and whether there was any appearance of the God as deliverer or 
bringer of new life. In any case the same conjunction appears 
on the Vagnonville Crater; a Sphinx is sitting on a %w/Lta 7*79 
which Satyrs are hammering at with picks, as though for the 
Anodos of Kore. (See J. E. Harrison, Delpiiika, J.H.S. xix. 1899, 
p. 235, and Prolegomena, p. 211, fig. 45: cf. also the krater in 
Monwmenti dell' Inst. II. pi. lv.) 

1 I do not mean by this to suggest that the final scene is spurious. On the 
contrary. The Aition is the grave-ritual of Eteocles and Polynices, and the last 
scene is quite correct and normal in stating that Aition. 

Epiphanies in Aeschylus 349 

Thus we find that of the five trilogies of Aeschylus which are 
represented in our extant plays, two end with a final epiphany, 
one has an epiphany in each play, one is uncertain but most 
likely had a grand final appearance of Zeus in state ; one ends 
with a Threnos. 

What of the fragmentary plays ? I will not attempt to discuss 
them at length, but will merely mention those which prima facie 
seem to have contained an epiphany. I refer throughout to 
Nauck's Fragmenta. 

Amymone: the heroine attacked by satyrs Ucre^vo, 8e ivubavivros 6 
Sarvpos /uv ccpvyev. Epiphany of Poseidon. 

NoaZT' a \ \ ^ Ud + ° f i h& ^' cur g us trilogy, Edoni, Bassarai, Neaniskoi. The 
n tTa ed ,1 ?. "" *?■ ^ T COnvei ' ted Edoni i *ey form a band of Kouroi 
initiated into the worship of Dionysus. Thus the whole trilogy had probably 

Rntfl 1 ?K Jat the / n ?> with Dio »y^ instituting his own ritual worst,, l 
iJut also the separate plays seem to have had epiphanies. 

Jidoni: king Lycurgus acts the part of Pentheus : Dionysus is on the 
stage as in the Bacchae, fr. 61 : he makes an earthquake, as in the Bacchae, 
ir. o» . and, since his enemy Lycurgus was ultimately confounded it is 
practically certain that in the end, as in the Bacchae, he appeared in 

Bassarai: Orpheus, a rebel of a different sort, was* tarn to pieces by the 
Maenads (Bassands) for worshipping the Sun, L| »i Mo ^ L^yliZ 

ThtrL fm n°f \ C T L 24 ' T , hlS SUgg6Sts a great ^^ of the 7 Muses. 
Baccta! rt n^ bee " T y er ^ "lose to the original Dionysiac ritual, like the 
Bacchae. The Daimon (Dionysus-Orpheus) is torn to pieces, collected and 
recognized, mourned for, and then revealed in glory 

Other Dionysiac plays are Pentheus, of which we are definitely told that 
not knLT / a ?, 6 ^ that ° f Euri P ides ' Bacchae ; Dionusou Trophoi, plot 

See above » TS^Si^J "T 8 ? the y ° Ung Year - da ™ » some form 
t&ee above, p. 13) ; and lastly, Bacchae. 

%^^ilo°gy tw/ 6 ^^ 111011 PkyS ' the m * mi > a " d the N «™«- 

L/w L PerhapS the . th u ird P^ of the same t"logy as the Perrhaebides. 
whee n fh? L"™? to n ha J\ 1 shown Ix!on bound by Zeus to the burning 
wheel m the sky. See Diod. Sic. 4. 69. 3, ap. N. This would <?ive a went 
epiphany of Zeus and the gods. g grea,t 

Eurdpe or Kdres : see N. The play seems to have ended by the arrival 
through the air of the gods Sleep and " Death, bearing the body of LuWs 
son, Sarpedon, for burial in his native land } ^uropas 

Lni™!ll : P P! t " nCe , rtain ' xT U n^' e kQOW that the Kabiri themselves made an 
appeal ance. Plutarch, up N. 97. 

Fn^rTT : y 1 the T d u Memnon is skin b y Achilles. His goddess mother, 
Ej g ^ • i. Zeus , a » d obtains the gift of immortality which she brings to 
him Epiphany of Eos. Proclus, ap. N. 

l„.„ : , n ° direC ! ; evidence ' but it is difficult to see how this plot can have 

been completed without the appearance of a god 

Pentheus : same plot as the Bacchae. Epiphany of Dionysus. See above. 
. Aantnai Ihe Rending Women' : possibly another name for the Pentheus ■ 
in any case it seems to have dealt with the same story. 

Semele or Hydrophoroi. The ' Water-bearers' are those who try to put 
out the conflagration of the palace owing to the epiphany of Zeus 

350 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

Toxotides : Actaeon transformed into a stag. Probably epiphany of 

Phineus : see above, p. 348. 

Psychostasia : the epiphany here was famous and elaborate. Zeus 
appeared on the ' theologeion,' Thetis on one side of him and Eos on the 
other, weighing the souls of Achilles and Memnon. Pollux, 4. 130. Eos, we 
are told, came down on a yepavos. 

Oreithuia : she was carried off by Boreas. The passages from Longinus 
and John of Sicily about the extravagance or aronia of the poet suggest that 
Boreas appeared in person when he ' stirred the sea by blowing with his two 
cheeks. ' 

The following are less clear. 

Heliades : their transformation into poplars was foretold or explained. 
This suggests an epiphany. Such things are usually done by a divine being. 

The Achilles trilogy, Myrmidones, Nereides, Phryges or Hectors Ransom. 
In the first Thetis seems to have appeared to provide the arms, in the second 
the Chorus consists of Nereids and it is difficult to imagine the play without 
Thetis. In the third we know that Hermes appeared at the beginning. 
It seems possible that the council of the gods described in II. xxiv. as insisting 
on the ransoming of Hector made an appearance. 

Hoplon Krisis, the Adjudgement of the Arms of Achilles : it appears from 
N. 174 that Thetis was summoned to come with her attendants to preside 
over the trial. No doubt she came. 

Lastly, there are some plays in which our supposed Year-daimon 
makes his epiphany not as a celestial god but as a ghost or a hero returned 
from the grave. It is obvious that he is quite within his rights in so 
appearing : he is essentially a being returned from the dead, and his original 
ritual epiphany was a resurrection. 

Persae : after the Pathos narrated by the Messenger comes a Threnos and 
an evocation of the dead Icing or god, Darius, see p. 348. 

Kressai : the subject seems to have been the restoration to life of Glaucus, 
son of Minos, by Polyidus. (This Glaucus, restored to life by snakes, may 
well have been a form of Year-daimon.) 

Psychagdgoi : the plot is unknown, except that the title is said to have 
denoted ' persons who by charms of some sort resurrect the souls of the 
dead.' Bekk. Phryn. p. 73, 13. 

Nernea and Hypsipyle probably belong to a trilogy on the death and 
heroization of Archemorus-Opheltes, who is a typical Year-daimon, appearing 
as a Snake or a Baby. (See p. 214.) 

We do not know whether there was an appearance of Heracles at the end 
of Aeschylus' Philoctetes, as there was in that of Sophocles. But it is perhaps 
worth remembering that Aeschylus was supposed to have revealed ' certain 
lore of the mysteries' in the Toxotides, Hiereiai, Sisyphus Petrocylistes, 
Iphigenia and Oedipus. The extremely close connection between the mysteries 
and the Year-daimon will be in the minds of all who have read the present 

A numerical tabulation of the above results would be mislead- 
ing, both because most of the conclusions are only probabilities, 
and still more because we cannot generally constitute the trilogies 
to which the various lost tragedies belong. If we could, the final 
Theophanies would probably be still more numerous. There 
remain outside the above plays some 23 of which our knowledge is 
so scanty that no prima facie conclusions can, as far as I can see, be 

Epiphanies in Euripides 351 

drawn. But it can hardly be disputed that in a surprising number 
of Aeschylus' tragedies we have found signs of either a definite 
epiphany of a god or the resurrection of a dead hero, or lastly the 
direct worship of a Year-daimon. We cannot be certain, but we 
may surmise that some such epiphany or resurrection was quite as 
common in Aeschylus as in Euripides. 

I will leave out the question of such Epiphanies in the 
fragments of Sophocles : the evidence would take very long to 
state. His extant plays will be briefly treated below. In general the 
result is that in this, as in so many other particulars, Sophocles is 
influenced more by the Ionian Epic and less by the Attic Sacer 
Ludus than the other two tragedians. It is just the same with the 
other Forms. Sophocles deliberately blurs his outlines and breaks 
up his Agon and Messenger and Prologue into what we may almost 
call continuous dramatic conversation ; Euripides returns to an 
extreme clarity and articu lateness and stiffness of form in all 
three. The discussion of Euripides' technique is of course another 
story, but so much will, I think, hardly be denied either by his 
friends or his enemies. 

Passing on, then, to Euripides, what is it that he did about his 
epiphanies ? In especial, why is he ridiculed by comedy for his 
use of the Deus ex machina, if Aeschylus really used such 
epiphanies as much or more ? 

The answer, I think, is not that he invented the introduction 
of gods : he clearly did not : but that, more suo, he introduced 
them in a sharply defined manner, always at the end of the play, 
and, it would seem, with some particularly smooth and effective 
machinery. (Perhaps an invention made about the year 428, see 
Bethe, Prolegomena, pp. 130 — 141.) The general purpose for which 
he used them — (1) to console griefs and reconcile enmities and 
justify tant bien que mat the ways of the gods, and (2) to expound 
the Aition of the play, and the future fates of the characters — was, 
I believe, part of the tradition. In these respects his gods play 
exactly the parts of Athena in the Eumenides or Aphrodite in the 
Danaides, probably even of Zeus in the Prometheus Unbound. 

The Theophanies in the extant plays of Euripides are as follows : 

Hippolytus: Artemis appears, (1) comforts and reconciles Theseus and 
Hippolytus, and (2) founds the ritual of Hippolytus at Trozen. 

352 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

Andromache: Thetis appears, (1) sheds comfort on the suffering Peleus 
and Andromache, and (2) orders that Neoptolemus be laid in his tabu tomb 
at Delphi. 

Supplices: Athena ap2Jears, (1) comforts the Argives by foretelling the 
expedition of the Epigoni to conquer Thebes, and (2) bids Theseus consecrate 
the brazen tripod at Delphi which is witness to the oath of eternal friendship 
to Athens sworn by the Argives. 

Ion: Athena appears, (1) comforts Ion and Creusa, and (2) ordains the 
founding of the four Attic tribes. 

Electra: the Dioscoroi appear, (1) condemn the law of vengeance, comfort 
Electra and Orestes, and (2) expound the origin of the Areopagus, of the 
Oresteion in Arcadia, and of the tabu tombs of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra 
(cf. Paus. ii. 16. 7). 

Iphigenia Taurica: Athena appears, (1) appeases Thoas, promises comfort 
to Orestes, and (2) founds the worship of Artemis-Iphigenia at Halae and 

Helena: the Dioscoroi appear, (1) appease Theoclymenus, (2) found the 
worship of Helen (in conjunction with their own), explain the name of the 
island Helene, and promise immortality to Menelaus. 

Orestes : Apollo appears, striking (as I hope to show elsewhere) his hearers 
into a. trance ; (1) makes peace between Menelaus and Orestes, (2) explains 
the origin of the Oresteion in Arcadia and of the Areopagus and proclaims 
the worship of Helen. 

Bacchae : Dionysus appears, (1) judges his enemies, consoles Cadmus and 
(2) establishes his worship. See above. 

Iph. Aul. : end lost : Artemis seems to have appeared, (1) saved Iphigenia, 
comforted Agamemnon, and (2) doubtless ordained the Brauron rite. 

Rhesus: the Muse, mother of Rhesus, appears, (1) laments her son, and 
(2) establishes his worship as an ' anthropodaimon.' 

If this were free and original composition the monotony would 
be intolerable and incomprehensible : we can understand it only 
when we realize that the poet is working under the spell of a set 
traditional form. 

The Euripidean plays which do not end with a god are the 
following : Cyclops, Alcestis, Medea, Heracleidae, Hecuba, Heracles, 
Troades, Phoenissae. 

These require special consideration. It is no part of my case 
to argue that all plays necessarily conform to the same type. The 
sacer ludus of a Torch-race, like the Prometheia, or the sacer ludus 
of some Altar of Sanctuary like the various Suppliant Plays, has 
no particular reason for conforming to the scheme of the Dionysus- 
play, except the influence of custom and analogy. But we shall 
find even in these plays which have no obvious Theophanies some 
curious traces of the Theophany-form. 

The Cyclops is a Satyr-play, and does not come into question. 

The Alcestis is, I think, also in form a Satyr-play. (See Argument, also 
Dietericb, Pulcinella, p. 69.) Yet we must note that it ends with a Resur- 

Theophanies and Theophany- Forms 353 

Medea : it ends with a scene in which Medea appears on a height 
(Schol. ad 1317), and then rides through the air uttering prophecies and 
founding the rite of her children's worship. When we remember that Medea 
was really a goddess, and that she and her children received worship in 
Greece, we can see that this scene is really a faded or half-humanized 
Theophany. Cf. the treatment of Hippolytus. 

Heracleidae : who is, in the ritual sense, the 'hero' of the Heracleidael 
Without doubt Eurystheus ; it is the "Ayos of his death and his sacred grave 
or ' place of burial ' (1040 ff.) that constitute the Aition of the play. The end 
in our MSS. seems to be incomplete, but it clearly contains the foundation by 
the Hero himself of his own tabu ritual. This is not far removed from the 
original daimon-rite or theophany. 

Hecuba : it ends with the prophecies of the fey and dying Thracian hero, 
and his announcement of the Aition of the Kunos Sema (1273). 

Heracles : Theseus is of course not a god, but he is a worshipped hero ; 
and his function in this play is just that of the ordinary Deus. He 
comforts Heracles, sends him away from Thebes, describes his future life, and 
lastly ordains his worship with its proper honours and ritual. (See esp. 
1322 — 1340 : just like a speech ex machina.) 

Troades : it ends with a pure Threnos. See above. It is interesting to 
note that the Theophany, omitted here, comes by its rights at the beginning 
of the play. 

Phoenissae : a curious question arises. The play apparently ends with a 
Threnos, which is legitimate enough. But the last scene also contains the 
driving out of Oedipus to ]\It Kithairon. Now Oedipus was a daimon who 
haunted Mt Kithairon. (See Eoscher ; also my Introd. to Sophocles' Oed. 
Rex.) He goes out to Kithairon in this play, 17~>1 f. Also in Oed. Rex, 
1451 ff. he expresses his wish to go out to 'yonder Kithairon that is called 
mine own.' When we remember that the connection of Oedipus with the 
Attic Colonus is probably a late Attic invention (Phoen. 1704 ft'.) and reflect 
on the curious 'passing' of Oedipus in the Coloneus, a suspicion occurs that 
the true ritual end of the Oedipus-dronienon was the supernatural departure 
of the hero-daimon to his unknown haunt on the mountain. In this case the 
sending forth to Kithaeron — otherwise almost unmotived — is again a faded 
remnant of what we have called the Theophany-form. This argument is 
strengthened by the generally admitted fact that the pair Oedipus-Jocasta are 
a vegetation pair, like Adonis- Aphrodite, Hippolytus-Artemis, etc. But it 
cannot be pursued further here. 

To sum up, we find that the tragedies of Euripides usually 
end with a Theophany of a markedly formal and ritual character, 
closely suiting our conception of the Sacer Ludus of Dionysus, as 
daimon of the Year-cycle of death and rebirth; further, that in those , 
tragedies which do not end in a confessed Theophany there are at ) 
any rate curious resemblances to the typical Theophany-form ; 
furthermore, the evidence of the extant and fragmentary plays of 
Aeschylus, though often uncertain, seems to show that a Theophany 
of a similar sort was also usual in them, either at the end of a 
trilogy or in the separate plays. About Sophocles we shall say 
something later : the evidence is not very conclusive, but the 
indications are not at all inconsistent with the above results. 
h. 23 

354 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

Let us now consider the other forms, especially the group 

Agon, Pathos, Messenger, Threnos. 

Pathos and Messenger almost always go together; the Agon 
is doubtless less characteristically ritual than the other parts, as 
arguments and spirited dialogue scenes naturally tend to occur in 
any drama. With respect to the Agon and Threnos we will 
chiefly notice how they stand in relation to the Messenger, and 
how far the supposed original order of sequence is preserved in 
each play. 

Euripides being the clearest and most definite in his ritual 
forms, we will take him first. 

Alcestis : being a Satyr-play it need not conform to the tragic type. It 
has, however, in the proper place the Agon (Heracles and Death), Threnos 
and Resurrection. 

Milieu : typical, with the necessary modifications. Agon, Medea against 
herself 1020 — 1080. (The scene before has also been an Agon, Medea out- 
witting Jason.) Pathos and Messenger 1121 — 1230; quasi-Threnos in the 
frightful scene (1251 — 1292) where the children are murdered behind the 
barred door : quasi-Theophany, as explained above. (There cannot be a 
real Threnos because that is definitely forbidden by Medea 1378 ff. We 
may conjecture that there was no dpfjvos in the Corinthian rite: cf. Paus. 
II. 3. 6 and Sehol. Med. 273. If it was intended to mitigate infant mortality, 
this would be natural.) 

Heracleidae : see above on Eurystheus. The Pathos-Messenger (799 — 866) 
announces the battle and the capture of Eurystheus; there then follows an 
Agon-scene, apparently out of its order ; the end is incomplete, but it 
contained the establishment of the funeral rite by Eurystheus himself, as 

Hippolytus : typical. Agon, Messenger with Pathos, Threnos, Anagnorisis, 
Theophany. See above. 

Andromache : typical : same order. See above. 

Hecuba: the Messenger comes early in the play, hence we cannot have a 
Theophany immediately following it. In compensation a Ghost appears at 
the beginning. We have Agon between Odysseus and Hecuba-Polyxena 
(218 — 440) : Messenger with Pathos 484 — 582 : then Threnos in Hecuba's 
speech. Then the course of the play interrupts. On the end see above, 
p. 353. 

Supplices : clear sequence. Agon between Herald and Theseus- Adrastus 
(399 — 597); Messenger announcing the Battle 634 — 777; then Threnos. This 
Threnos is enormously developed and practically includes the rest of the 
play up to the Theophany, except that it is interrupted by the Euadne scene. 
(That scene is evidently put in, and very skilfully, to fill up the interval 
while the slain men are cremated and their bones made ready for burial. 
But it must, no doubt, have some ritual explanation also.) 

Heracles: the sequence is peculiar. The Messenger bursts out from the 
ruined house at 909. The scene before has been the divine apparition of 
Lyssa, which, however, is quite different in character from the regular 
Theophanies. I am inclined to think that technically the attack of Lyssa 
upon Heracles is an Agon; see below on the Iph. Aul., Persae and Septem. 

Agon, Pathos, Messenger, Threnos 355 

The scene before has certainly been an Agon between Heracles and Lvcus 
(cf. 789, 812). Thus we get the sequence Agon (Agon), Pathos and Messenger, 
Threnos, and, clearly, Anagnorisis 1089 — 1145 : then, instead of a god, 
Theseus appears, ex machina as it were : see above. 

Ion : typical. Great Agon scene, Creusa against Apollo 859 — 922, or one 
may perhaps count it as lasting till 1047 ; then Pathos-Messenger 1106 — 1228, 
brief Threnos 1229 — 1250; then second Agon 1250 — 1394 and Anagnorisis 
1395 — 1549 (with Peripeteia); then Theophany. 

Troades : the form in many ways peculiar, but the latter part has the 
sequence: Agon of Helen against Hecuba-Menelaus 860 — 1060; Choric ode, 
then Messenger 1123 — 1155, then great Threnos to the end. 

Electra : Agon of Electra and C'lytemnestra 997 — 1146 : then the 
Messenger is omitted, the Pathos is avrdyyeXov, announced by the shriek of 
Clytemnestra and the return of the murderers with bloody swords, 1147 — 
1176 : then Threnos (with a kind of spiritual Anagnorisis and Peripeteia), 
then Theophany. The Messenger-form, omitted here, has occurred earlier 
in the play, 761 — 858. 

Iphigenia Taurica: the end is clear: Agon, Thoas and Iphigenia 1152 — 
1233: Messenger (with a kind of Anagnorisis 1318, 1361): no Threnos, 
unless we may take the Chorus's two lines of lamentation, 1420, 1421, as an 
atrophied Threnos ; Theophany. The real Threnos of the play has come 
earlier, as it tends to come in plays about Orestes. 

Helena: Agon with Theoclymenus (I take the diplomatic contest with 
these dangerous barbarians to be a clear form of Agon) 1186 — 1300: con- 
tinued in 1369 — 1450: then Messenger 1512 — 1618: no Threnos is possible ; 
instead we have a brief Agon, Theoclymenus against the Servant at the door 
1621—1641 : then Theophany. 

Phoenissae : there are two Messengers, each with a double speech. We 
take at present only the second. The great Agon of the play has occurred 
much earlier, 446—637, between Eteocles and Polynices. The sequence at 
the end is merely Messenger 1356—1479, Threnos 1485 — 1580, and 1710 — 
end, interrupted by an Agon between Creon and Antigone. As Aitia we 
have the burial arrangements of Eteocles and Polynices and the expulsion 
of Oedipus to Mt Kithairon — perhaps a faded Theophany, see above. The 
tabu tombs of the two princes form also the end of the Septem. The general 
structure of the Phoenissae is highly formal under its cover of Epic expansion, 
but we will not discuss it here. 

Orestes : in the conclusion of the play I think we must recognize the 
Phrygian as an Exangelos. That is, his dramatic function is to relate what 
has taken place inside the house. The lyrical form is merely chosen for 
variety's sake. This gives us the sequence : Messenger combined with 
Threnos : Agon between Orestes and Menelaus : Theophany of Apollo. 
There has been an ordinary Messenger earlier 852 — 956 : also a Threnos 
960 — 1012. Also an Evocation of the dead Agamemnon, much atrophied 
1225 — 1240. (These atrophied evocations of Agamemnon are of course de- 
rived from the great evocation in the Choephori: one would like to know if 
that scene itself is softened down from some still more complete predecessor, 
in which Agamemnon actually rose from the tomb.) 
, Bacchae: absolutely typical : see above. 

Iphigenia Aulidensis: the end is lost, but the present traces suggest a 
pretty typical sequence : Agon, Achilles pelted by the troops, argument 
between Achilles and Clytaenmestra, 1337 — 1432 : Threnos of Iphigenia, 1475 
— 1531 : Messenger 1532 — ? Then perhaps Threnos, certainly Theophany. 

Rhesus : the Hcniochos is clearly a Messenger. So we end with the 
sequence Agon 675 — 727, fight of Diomedes and Odysseus with the Guards : 
Messenger 728 — 819, continuing into a short Agon between Heniochos and 
Hector, 820 — 881 : then Theophany combined with Threnos. 


356 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

But let us consider one particular point more closely. If we 
notice the plays in which Orestes occurs we shall find that that 
hero always produces a peculiar disturbance in the Forms. Now 
Orestes is traditionally a figure of strongly marked type — the 
beloved hero who is reported dead and then returns in triumph. 
I strongly suspect that his reported death, lamentation and 
re-appearance alive were in origin exactly parallel to the reported 
death, lamentation and re-appearance alive of the Daimon, 
Dionysus, Osiris, etc. In Sophocles the false death is described in 
detail : it is a airapayixo^, like that of Hippolytus, and at the 
Pythian games ! As Orestes became thoroughly humanized, the 
supernatural element dwindled away. But we shall see that his 
appearance, though it mostly comes early in the play and does 
not count — so to speak — as a real final Theophanjr, is apt to come 
in conjunction with Messenger and Threnos and Invocation of the 
Dead. It bears traces of its original theophanous glory. 

Usener has argued on other grounds (Archiv, I.e. pp. 332 ff.) 
that Orestes at Delphi was a winter daimon and ' Doppelganger ' 
to Dionysus, as Neoptolemus was to Apollo. And it is worth 
noting that the same line of thought possibly supplies a clue to 
a puzzling and tiresome scene in Euripides' Electra, 771 — 858. 
The ritual described in the messenger's speech seems extra- 
ordinarily like a reflection of a Bouphonia at an Eniautos festival. 
Orestes is made to act as Daitros for the communal Dais (see 
p. 142) — one might say, as some reminiscence of a daimon of the 
New Year who in human form slays the Old Year in bull form. 
As such he is recognized (v. 852, iyvooadi] 5' viro \ yepovros...) 
and they crown and lead him with acclamation (v. 854, are^oucn 
S' evdvs crov /caai'yvjjTov /cdpa | ^aipovre<i aXaXd^ovres). 

Iph. Tour.: besides the final sequence we have an opening 
Orestes-sequence : Threnos for Orestes 136 — 235 : Messenger 
announcing Pathos (Stoning) of Orestes : then Appearance of 
Orestes, in a great scene 472 — 900, involving an Agon and an 
Anagnorisis and Peripeteia. 

Eur. Electra: after Prologue, we have Threnos 112 — 212 (on 
Orestes and Agamemnon) : then Appearance of Orestes, with 
Agon leading to Anagnorisis 487 — 595. Oddly enough this is 
followed by an Evocation of the Dead, and a Messenger. The 
various elements of the death and resurrection of the Daimon are 

Agon, Pathos, Messenger, Threnos 357 

all there, but scattered and broken since the conception which 
held them together has been lost. 

We noticed above in the Andromache (p. 6) that the inter- 
rupting Orestes-scene came with a sequence Messenger, Threnos, 
Epiphany of Orestes, and that, much in the manner of a deus ex 
machina he (1) saved and consoled Hermione, and (2) announced 
the Aition of the play. 

In the Orestes the hero does not return from the dead, and the 
sequence is quite confused, but our supposed original Daimon- 
Orestes appears possibly to have left two rather curious traces. 

1. He is shown at the beginning of the play lying like a dead 
man (83 a6\i(ot veicpuii' veicpos <ydp ovtos ktX., 385 rlva 8e8op/ca 
veprepwv ;), is roused by the women wailing round him and rises. 

2. At the end, just before the full-blooded Theophany of Apollo, 
we see Orestes appearing on the roof of the Palace, a place 
generally appropriated to divine beings. See also below on the 
Choephori and Soph. Electro. 

Turning from Euripides to the less formal tragedians, we shall 
not of course expect to find in them the same clear-cut sequences 
of unmistakable Agon, Messenger-Pathos, Threnos, Anagnorisis, 
Theophany. But I think we shall find that these Forms, a little 
less stark and emphatic, a little more artistically modified, are 
usually present in both Aeschylus and Sophocles. 

Aeschylus : 

Supplices : we have seen that the whole trilogy ended in a typical Theo- 
phany, so we need not expect one here. But we have a clear Agon (Maidens 
against Herald) 826 — 910, followed by arrival of the Basileus with a Peripeteia ; 
then Messenger (Danaus as Messenger 980 — 1014) ; then not exactly a 
Threnos, but a song of prayer (1018 — end). 

Persae: the Forms come early. Messenger 249—514, Threnos 515 — 597, 
Evocation of dead 'god' 598—680: epiphany 681—842. The rest to the 
end is Threnos. This gives us a perfect typical sequence, except that the 
Agon seems to be absent. If we look for it in its proper place we shall rind 
it, not acted indeed but described. In 176—214 we have Atossa's dream of 
the Agon between Europe and Asia, the Agon which was actually taking 
place but could not be represented on the stage. Cf. Ale. Heracles, Iph. Aul. 

Septem : here also the Agon takes place 'off,' after 718. Then Messenger 
792—822 : then Threnos 831 — 1009, and, instead of a Theophany, an enact- 
ment of the Aition of the ritual. (Grave- worship of Eteocles and Polynices.) 

Prometheus : a passionate little scene between Prometheus and the 
Chorus just before 940 might possibly be described as an Agon, though the 
greater Agon comes earlier: then 944 — 1035 Messenger (Hermes, cf. 943) 
mixed with Agon : then, as substitute for the Theophany, a supernatural 
earthquake involving the cleaving of Earth and the revealing of Hell. 

358 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

Agamemnon : in this trilogy the full Theophany is reserved for the last 
play and consequently the sequence in the individual plays is upset and 
confused. "We have, however, Messenger 550 — 680: Agon of Clytemnestra 
and Agamemnon 810 — 975 : then the Cassandra scene, foretelling the Pathos ; 
then Pathos airdyyeXov, another Agon and Threnos. 

Choephori : as in other Orestes-plays we have a Threnos and Anagnorisis 
quite early 165—244: Evocation of dead 315 — 510: Agon (Orestes and 
Clytemnestra) 674 — 930, with a Messenger (Exangelos) in the midst of it 
875 — 886, combined with Pathos avrdyyeXov : Threnos, consisting of mixed 
joy and woe and culminating in long speeches over the dead bodies 935 — 
1047 : lastly a Vision of the Furies, which may possibly have involved a real 

Eumenides: Agon 566 — 680, or perhaps to 750, with Athena making an 
Aition-speech in the style of a Deus ex machina in the middle 681 — 710 : then 
new Agon with a reconciliation (886 ff.) and Peripeteia ; then great Procession 
of gods. ]So Messenger. The whole play is really the Theophany of the 
Oresteia trilogy. 

Sophocles : 

It is especially interesting to see how Sophocles has broken 
down the stiff lines of the ritual Theophany into scenes of vague 
supernatural grandeur. 

Oedipus Rex: fairly clear end. Agon (short but involving Anagnorisis 
and Peripeteia) between Oedipus and the Herdsman 1123 — 1185 : Exangelos 
or Messenger with Pathos 1223 — 1296: then Threnos with suggestion of 
Oedipus r s flight to Kithairon to become a Daimon (1451 ff.). 

Oedipus Coloneus : Agon between Oedipus and Polynices 1254 — 1396 : 
slight Threnos and last speech of Oedipus. This last speech is very super- 
natural ; it consists of prophecies and Aitia, and is spoken amid continuous 
lightning and thunder (1514 f.) : then Messenger 1579 — 1666, and final Threnos 
over Oedipus's passing. A faded Theojmany is pretty visible here. 

Antigone : enormous Agon scene, Creon v. Antigone, then v. Haemon, 
then v. Antigone again 384—943 : Tiresias bringing a kind of Discovery (?) 
and Peripeteia 988 — 1114 : Messenger with Pathos 1155 — 1256, small Threnos : 
Second Messenger (Exangelos) 1278 and greater Threnos. The Aition is 
the same as that of the Septem, some Theban hero-ritual commemorating the 
children of Oedipus and their unhallowed ends — the buried living and the 
unburied dead. 

Ajax : a curious question suggests itself. All the latter part of the play, 
1046 — 1401, is occupied with an Agon (in three stages, ending in a reconcilia- 
tion) about the burial of Ajax. It is triumphantly decided that he is to be 
buried. Is that the end ? Or was he really buried ? Was there not some 
great final pomp representing the burial ? — In considering the prolonged 
emphasis laid on this burial question in the Ajax, we should remember that 
among the'dromena of the Aianteia was a iroum) and that the funeral bier of 
Ajax pera navoTrXias KareKoanelro. (Hesych., vid. Pauly s. Aianteia.) The 
play is close to the old hero-cult ; and perhaps the hero-cult itself not quite 
unrelated to some " Year-ritual," if the dead hero re-appeared in the spring 
flower that was marked with his name. 

In any case the sequence is rather curious : Theophany at beginning 
1 — 133. Later on we get a much atrophied Messenger 719 — 783, who fore- 
tells the Pathos which then proceeds to follow, 815 — 865. Then a scene of 
search and Anagnorisis 866 — 890 : then Threnos 891 — 1040 : then the great 
Agon, Reconciliation and — on some scale or other — Funeral. 

Electra : an Orestes-play, with the usual special characteristics. It begins, 

The Prologue 359 

after the Prologue, with a Threnos 86 — 250, then an Agon 328--471 (Chryso- 
themis) and a greater Agon 516—633 (Clytemnestra) : then an Invocation of 
the dead Agamemnon 634 — 659 : this is answered by the arrival of the 
Messenger announcing the death of Orestes 660 — 763, short Agon and Threnos 
822 — 870: then, after Agon which is almost part of the Threnos, 871 — 1057, 
Appearance of Orestes, with Anagnorisis, Peripeteia and final settlement of 
the play. On the death, lamentation, and discovery alive of Orestes, see p. 356. 

Trachiniae: the same question arises here as in the Ajax. The burning 
of Heracles on Mt Oeta was in ancient tradition and art closely associated 
with his Apotheosis. Was this burning and apotheosis represented on the 
stage ? It definitely is so in Seneca's imitation, Here. Oet. ad fin. In any 
case, whether represented or not, I think it must have been suggested to the 
minds of all spectators. The sequence is fairly typical: Agon of Hyllus 
and Deianira 734—820, Messenger (Exangelos) 870 — 946, Threnos, interrupted 
by the Appearance of Heracles, his Self- Lamentation and Burning — i.e. 

Pkiloctetes : this play has a definite Theophany at the end, but otherwise 
its sequence is rather far from any type. One might divide it thus : Agon 
865—1080, including an Anagnorisis 895—926: Threnos 1081 — 1217: fiercer 
Agon (Odysseus v. Neoptolemus and Philoctetes) 1222 — 1302; Reconciliation 
1308—1408: Theophany 1409—1471. 


We have hitherto considered the Forms that come towards . 
the end and build up the conclusion of a tragedy. In any true 
work of art the end is always specially important and significant. 
It is the last act that chiefly determines the character of a play. 

It is the end of the verse that best indicates the metre. But 


there is one important form which belongs necessarily to the 

Dieterich is doubtless right in comparing the Prologue of 
tragedy with the Prorrhesis of the hierophant before a sacred 
Dromenon. What such a prorrhesis was like we can only guess. 
There are a few small phrases of ritual preserved : there is the 
parody of a prorrhesis given by the Hierophant in the Frogs, 
354 ff. ; there are a few lines spoken by Iphigenia as priestess 
before her tabu procession starts (/. T. 1226 ff.). It certainly 
gave orders for Euphemia, or solemn silence : it probably also 
said something about the sacred dance which was to follow. 
'Make room for a Dance of Mystae! And do you begin the singing 
and the all-night dances that are meet for this festival ' (Ar. Frogs, 
370 f.). When the nature of the dance was something obviously 
dictated by the occasion — e.g. when it was the celebration of 
a particular Festival on the proper day — there was no need for 
any further explanation. But as soon as anything like tragedy 

360 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

began, the case was different. The sacred dance of Dionysus 
might be about Agamemnon, or Oedipus, or the Daughters of 
Danaus, or what not. Consequently there was need of a Pro-logos, 
of something spoken before. The word suggests prose rather than 
verse. We know that the sacred Herald proclaimed — in an 
audience which had no knowledge of what play or what poet 
was coming — '0 Theognis, lead on your Chorus!' (Ar. Ach. 11). 
We know that — in a certain Proagon, whatever that was — 
Sophocles led on his Chorus in black. What was the poet 
supposed to do when he 'led on' his Chorus? Did he just bow 
and retire, leaving the audience to guess as best they could from 
the play itself what it was all about ? Or did he use this oppor- 
tunity and tell them ? Anyhow the prologos is defined as ' all 
the part before the dancers come on,' and it seems quite likely 
that originally it was not regarded as part of the sacred dance at 
all, but was something informal spoken by the poet. If our 
knowledge were a little fuller we should very likely be told who 
7rpcoT09 ejpa-^re Trpo\6<yov<^, and be able to assume that when 
Aeschylus ' led on ' his Chorus for the Persae and the Supp liant 
Women he told the audience what the play was to be. Then the 
development would be like that of the Dithyramb, of Comedy, of 
the Satyr-play, perhaps of the Apotheosis-scenes at the end: 
a Form that was first merely improvised or built up by scenic 
effects without written verses, grew gradually to be ' written ' and 
regarded as an integral part of an artistic whole. Mediaeval 
prologues and clown-scenes would afford good parallels, and we 
should understand why Euripides was so proud that ov^iwv 
7rpa)TiaTci fxoi to yevos av elirev ev0v$ rov hpdfunos. He, more 
than either of his predecessors, made a character in the play do 
all the Prologue for him, and that in a thorough and clear manner. 
For clearness, aacp-qveia, was to the age of the Sophists the first 
virtue of \ef t?. 

But this is conjectural : what development is traceable in our 
extant remains ? I think we can see that the Prologue, still 
rather fluid in the hands of Aeschylus, grew first in the direction 
of mere drama, and then turned aside towards a definite religious 

For instance, in Aeschylus we have the stages : 
1. No written Prologue : Supplices and Persae. 

The Prologue 361 

2. Simple Prologue of one speaker: Agamemnon, Choephori 
(with Pylades dumb). 

3. Complete exposition-scene with two or more characters : 
Septem : Eteocles and Messenger. 

Eumenides : Pythia : change of Scene : Apollo, Orestes and 
Ghost. (Unless indeed the Dance in the strict sense begins by 
the Chorus being seen within about v. 35.) 

Prometheus : the elaborate scene with Kratos and Bia has 
apparently been introduced to meet the need of nailing the 
gigantic figure on the rock. 

In Sophocles stage (1) disappears altogether, and so practically 
does (2). All the plays without exception begin with regular 
exposition-scenes involving two or more characters. It is notice- 
able, however, that two of the latest plays, Trachiniae and 
Philoctetes, start this exposition-scene with a quasi-Euripidean 
Prologue, addressed confessedly or half-confessedly to the audience. 
That is, Sophocles regularly works in stage (3), but in his latest 
work begins to be influenced by a further stage. What this is we 
shall find in Euripides. 

Euripides has practically always an exposition-scene — so 
much is a natural concession to the growing complexity of 
drama — but in front of the exposition-scene he has a formal 
speech addressed to the audience by one quiet and solitary 
figure ; a figure, also — and this is what I wish to emphasize — 
which is either confessedly supernatural or at least somehow 
charged with religious emotion. 

Let us take first the plays which happen to omit the ex- 
position-scene altogether. To do so is, of course, a kind of 
archaism : a return to a less complex kind of drama, in which 
the sacred dance followed immediately on the Prologue-speech. 
It occurs, if we disregard the Cyclops as not being a tragedy, in 
only two dramas, and those naturally enough the very two that 
are most formal and nearest to their respective forms of Sacer 
Ludus, the Bacchae and the Supplices. The Bacchae has been 
already dealt with : the Sacer Ludus behind all the Suppliant 
Plays seems to me to have been a ritual only second in its 
influence on tragedy to that of the Year-cycle itself. I will not 
now discuss the subject at length, but I can understand the origin 
of the Suppliant Plays best as a ritual intended to keep alive 

362 Ritual Forms in Greek Tragedy 

the right of sanctuary attached to some particular altar or tomb 
or the like, very much as we keep alive the control over a right 
of way. On one day in the year some fugitives take refuge at 
the altar, some pursuer tries to drag them away, and some high 
authority, god or king or people, forbids him. This is notoriously 
a very common motive in Greek tragedy, and was used, as recent 
finds have shown us, in the romantic comedy of the fourth 
century. (Pap. Ox. VI. 855, a scene which I should now explain 
differently.) I suspect that this ritual is also at the back of 
various rites which have generally been interpreted as survivals of 
human sacrifice, rites in which some one is pursued with weapons 
and is supposed to be killed unless he reaches a certain place 
of refuge. 

However that may be, let us consider the actual Prologue- 
speakers. We may start with Alcestis, Apollo (and Death) : 
Hippolytus, Aphrodite : Hecuba, the Ghost of Polydorus : Ion, 
Hermes : Troades, Poseidon (and Athena) : Bacchae, Dionysus : 
all these are supernatural. Next observe Heracleidae, Iolaus 
suppliant at an altar : Andromache, the heroine suppliant at an 
altar: Supplices, Aithra, surrounded by a Band of women sup- 
pliant at an altar : Heracles, Amphitryon and Megara, suppliants 
at an altar : Helena, the heroine suppliant at an altar : Iph. Taw., 
the half-divine priestess of a strange and bloodstained Temple 
rising from a dream of death. The religious half- supernatural 
atmosphere is unmistakable. 

The only exceptions are Medea, Phoenissae, Electra, Orestes, though in 
the two last the exception is more apparent than real. We must remember 
the curious traces of the daimon that cling about Orestes. In any case, 
both openings produce a decidedly uncanny atmosphere — the lonely woman 
in the night uttering curses against her mother, and the woman sitting alone 
by her brother who is mad and perhaps dead. 

There remain two peculiar cases, the Rhesus and Iphigenia in Aulis. We 
know that the Rhesus had in Alexandrian times three different Prologues, 
while the Iphigenia has two in our present MSS. I will not discuss them 
further than to point out that they seem to represent a new form of Prologue, 
which starts with a lyric scene. The lyric Prologues of both are very similar 
and exceedingly beautiful, and I may say in passing that I have long been 
inclined to think that we have in them the hand of the original producer of 
the Iphigenia, Euripides the younger. 

What is the explanation of these facts ? It seems to me that 
the old Sacer Ludus has reasserted itself: the Prologue, after 
passing into a mere dramatic exposition-scene between ordinary 

Form and Content of Greek Tragedy 363 

people, returns again to be a solemn address spoken to the 
audience by a sacred or mysterious figure. The differences are, 
first, that it is now integral in the whole play as a work of art, 
and secondly that it has been markedly influenced by the speech 
of the god at the end. It is the same story with other elements 
of the drama. The language and metre gets freer in Sophocles, 
and returns to formality in Euripides. The dialogue becomes 
irregular and almost ' natural ' in Sophocles, and then returns to 
a kind of formal antiphony of symmetrical speeches or equally 
symmetrical stichomythiae. The Chorus itself first dwindles to 
a thing of little account and then increases again till it begins 
once more to bear the chief weight of the tragedy. Something 
like the old hierophant reappears at the beginning, something 
like the old re-risen god at the end ; and, as we have seen, it 
is in plays of Euripides, and most of all in the very latest of 
his plays, that we find in most perfect and clear-cut outline the 
whole sequence of Contest, Tearing-asunder, Messenger, Lamenta- 
tion, Discovery, Recognition, and Resurrection which constituted 
the original Dionysus-mystery. 

An outer shape dominated by tough and undying tradition, 
an inner life fiery with sincerity and spiritual freedom ; the 
vessels of a very ancient religion overfilled and broken by the 
new wine of reasoning and rebellious humanity, and still, in 
their rejection, shedding abroad the old aroma, as of eternal and 
mysterious things: these are the fundamental paradoxes presented 
to us by Greek Tragedy. The contrasts have their significance 
for other art also, perhaps for all great art. But aesthetic 
criticism is not the business of the present note. 

G. M. 



(Herakles. Asklepios. Gaia to Apollo at Delphi.) 

"AttoAAon, "AnoAAoN, 
^ry^T, attoAAoon e/v\6c. 

On the very threshold of Olympos, one foot within the portals 
yet never quite inside, stands the hero of all heroes, the ' young 
dear hero,' Herakles 1 . The reason of his tarrying there is simple 
and instructive. It is not that in his labours and his banquetings 
he is too human, too ' heroic ' in the saga sense ; it is that he is a 
daimon, and a daimon-hero has much ado to fit his positive 
functions and yet shadowy shape into the clear-cut inert crystal of 
the Olympian. 

Herakles as Fertility and Year-Daimon. 

Homeric saga did for Herakles all it could. 

'And as to Hermes and Herakles,' says Pausanias 2 , 'the poems of Homer 
have given currency to the report that the first is a servant of Zeus and leads 
down the spirits of the departed to Hades, and that Herakles performed many 
hard tasks.' 

Why should Hermes and Herakles be linked together ? What 
has the young messenger with golden rod and winged sandals to 
do with the lusty athlete ? A second question brings an answer 
to the first. What were Hermes and Herakles before ' Homer ' 
made of one the ' servant of Zeus ' and of the other the ' hero ' 
of the labours ? Pausanias himself tells us ; they were both 
' Herms.' 

1 Usener, Sintflutsagen, p. 58, supposes an old Greek diminutive /ca\os = Latin 
cuius, and adduces the hypokoristie form 'Hpi'/cdXos. See Hesych. s.v. rbv 'HpaKXia 
^Lw<ppuv viroKopLUTiKws, cf. Hercules. 

2 viii. 32. 4. 

CH. IX] 

Herakles as Herm 


The Athenians, he says 1 , zealous in all matters of religion, 
were ' the first to use the square-shaped images of Hermes.' The 
Arcadians were 'specially partial 2 ' to the square form of Hermes. 
Hermes was a Herm, but not only Hermes, also Apollo Aguieus 
and Poseidon and Athena Ergane and Helios and — which concerns 
us most for the moment — Herakles. Art too bears out the testi- 

Fig. 97. 

mony of Pausanias. In the vase-painting, Fig. 97, we have 
Hermes in Herm form 3 . The Herm is marked by the kerykeion, 
the staff with double snakes. Behind the Herm is a little 
tree, for Hermes is a fertility- daimon; in front an altar and, 
suspended on the wall, a votive pinax. Side by side with the 
Herm of Hermes we figure a Herm of Herakles 4 , from a bronze coin 
of Athens. More human than the Hermes, Herakles has arms ; in 
one he holds a great cornucopia which marks him as Agathos 
Daimon, in the other his characteristic club. 

We talk and write glibly of the ' club ' of Herakles as his 
1 characteristic attribute ' and thereby miss the real point. The 
' club ' of Herakles is not to begin with a thing characteristic of 
Herakles, a poirakov, the rude massive weapon of a half-barbarian 
hero ; it is a magical bough, a tcXdSos 5 rent from a living tree. 

1 iv. 33. 4. 

2 vin. 48. 6. 

3 Conze, Heroen und Gottergestalten, Taf. 69. 2. The Herm on the original is 

4 See Roscher, s.v. Herakles, 2157, and see Overbeck, Gr. Plastik*, n. 25. 

5 This was long ago pointed out to me in a letter from Dr Walter Headlam, but 
neither he nor I then saw its full significance. It was also observed by Mr A. B. 
Cook in J.H.S. 1894, xiv. p. 115. 

366 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

The Orphic Hymn 1 going back, as so often, to things primitive 
thus addresses Herakles : 

'Come, Blessed One, bring spells for all diseases 

Drive out ill fates, wave in thy hand thy branch ; 

With magic shafts banish the noisome Keres. 

Herakles is, like Theseus, Thallophoros. Hermes as Herm has a 
tree in his sanctuary ; Herakles as Herm carries a bough. 

The people of Trozen knew the truth about the club ol 
Herakles,' and their simple faith seemed over credulous to 
Pausanias 2 . He says: 

And there is here a Hermes called Polygios They allege thai ^Herakles 
plac A efhisXb against this image and Uhis club which = ^ 
bh r i^e^d e ^trL-Spf ^ey^atHeiklesfound 
the wild olive at the bay of Saron and cut the club irom it. 
Hermes Polygios* seems to be some old xoanon about which grew 
a wild olive stunted and club-like in some part of its shape. One 
thing is clear, the 'club' of Herakles was connected though after 
the Inverted fashion of an ^etiological' myth, with the living 

growth of a tree. f 

g The bough in the right hand tells then the same story of 
fertility as the cornucopia in the left. The cornucopia and its 
gnificance are now familiar* and need not detain us. Only one 
point is important, the Athenian coin is of high evidential value 
because it shows the cornucopia as a cultus attribute. Later when 
■ Homer' and his saga had completely humanized Herakles when 
the saga-individuality of the hero became articulate and his 

1 xii 14 e\6e pdKap, volet* Oe\KT-f,pia iravra Kop.ifrv 

itikacov 5k KaKas dras, kMBov ev X ep t TraWwu, 

2 n 31 10 Kalvv yap kotIvov rovro &v (to pbTraXov) or* WT&, e^v r V y V 

KiXto^yw*^,^**^ {Ehein . Mus. lviii. 167) 

3 The etymology ol Polygios is una enain^ v g AeS chyli 
suggests UoUyvLos, and would -make of the Hermes ««y £ ^ ^ 
Supplkibm commentatio ,1890, p. xm, nj» J 1 1909 p . 333 , 
pollens,' and compares A««V«w. B ' *£ XxKLoi, and compares Asklepios 
quoting Prof. Torp, derives DoX^os from "o^ 1 /< , * 41 and the 

^jtffiStTS^ ^d^on^is most inirestmg but unproved 

Affray add to what was said^bove , „ SU £ about the „£ . cm 
grave-reliefs, an interesting fact that] ^escaped me. , xm _ ^ 

Ls Be**** auf den ost-gnechtsc^J^ehe^ m Jan on 

section vi. das Fiillhorn, points ° u 75 at *YmUar as an" adjunct to the ordinary 

^tr^rspss nasiSasi *i t*. ^ ^. 

ix] Her aides with Cornucopia and Klados 367 

functions as a daimon were forgotten, 
cumbersome. Tradition held to 
it as we see in the design in 
Fig. 98. It could not, like the 
branch, be transformed from a 
fertility-emblem into a weapon ; 
it had to be accounted for ; it 
called aloud in fact for an aetio- 
logical myth. The cornucopia, 
men said, did not originally 
belong to Herakles, it was the 
guerdon of one of his great 
labours ; he broke it off from 
the bull-headed river Acheloos. 
Dejaneira speaks. 

the cornucopia became 

Fig. 98. 

'A river was my lover, him I mean 
Great Acheloos, and in threefold form 
Wooed me, and wooed again. .A visible bull 
Sometimes, and sometimes a coiled, gleaming snake, 
And sometimes partly man, a monstrous shape 
Bull-fronted, and adown his shaggy beard 
Fountains of clear spring water glistening flowed 1 .' 

The vase-painting 2 in Fig. 99 reads like a commentary on 
Dejaneira's words. It just gives us the needful clue. Here is the 
great daimon of fertility in his familiar form, half man, half bull. 
And, as on countless coins the bull-man is the local river-god, so 
from his mouth flow the fertilizing streams, for is he not irayicpaTrjs 
ydvovs, ' Lord of all that is wet and gleaming" 1 ' ? And, that there 
be no mistake, a great cornucopia lies parallel above the life-giving- 
waters 4 . 

Nowhere perhaps does the fertility-daimon come so vividly 
before us as in the words of Dejaneira. We see him shifting from 

1 Soph. Track. 9ff. 2 Arch. Zeit. xvi. (1883), Taf. 11. 

3 Such are the deol yavdevres invoked by the Danaid chorus at the close of the 
Supplices of Aeschylus (v. 993). They leave the praises of the Nile and implore the 
local gods 

Trora/novs o'i 5ia x^P as 
de\e/j.6i> vQfxa x^ ovaiu 


4 Life-giving and also land-making. For the story of Alkmaion and the new 
alluvial earth deposited at the mouth of the Acheloos see Prolegomena, pp. 220, 221. 


From Dainion to Olympian 


one familiar shape to another; he is now, like Agathos Daimon, 
like Zeus Ktesios, a ' gleaming snake,' now a ' visible bull 1 ,' as he 
appeared to the women of Elis who wooed him to come to them 
' with his bull-foot,' and now a monstrous shape bull-fronted 
(/3ov7rp(ppo<;) like Zeus Olbios 2 . Nowhere else moreover is he, the 
fertility-daimon, so clearly the bridegroom, rejected indeed for 
saga purposes, but rejected only for his fully humanized form, for 
another fertility-daimon, Herakles. Herakles breaks off the horn 
of the fertility-daimon and carries away his bride. So understood 
the monstrosities of the story become real and even beautiful. 

Fig. 99. 

In the wooing of Dejaneira, whether by Acheloos the river-god 

or by Herakles the hero-daimon, we have a mythos that embodies 

the marriage, the [epos 7«/ao<?, of the queen of the land with the 

fertility-daimon, reflecting a ritual like that of the marriage of the 

Queen Archon at Athens with Dionysos. It is the old wedlock of 

the Earth and Sky, of thirsty Argos and the rain of heaven which 

fills the wells and rivers of earth. We wonder no longer that the 

Dithyramb, the spring mystery babe, is laid at his birth in the 

stream of 

Acheloos' roaming daughter, 
Holy Dirke, virgin water 3 . 

1 In some places naturally the fertility-daimon was not a goat, but a bull. See 
supra, p. 165. The goat, like the bull, might be associated with the cornucopia. 
Amaltheia, whose horn was the original cornucopia, was of course a goat. Below 
the reclining figure of a goat-headed 'Tityros' in the Museum of Fine Arts at 
Boston is a cornucopia. See P. Baur, Tityros, in American Journal of Archaeology, 
ix. 1905, PI. v. 

2 Supra, p. 148, Fig. 26. 3 Eur. Bacch. 519. 

ix] HeraJdes in the Trachiniae 369 

But if this wedlock of earth and living water be the first stage, 
there is in the Herakles-myth as told in the Trachiniae a second 
stage. Herakles is not only a seasonal fertility-daimon ; he is 
manifestly 1 a daimon of the Sun-Year. His Twelve Labours 
occupy a Great Year, /^eya? evtavros. The divisions of this cycle 
were somehow set forth in the 'ancient tablet' from Dodona which 
he gave to Dejaneira before he set forth on his last Labour, in the 
twelfth year. This twelfth year was not 12 months but 14, that 
is, it had the two intercalary months necessary to equalize approxi- 
mately the moon and sun cycles. The sacrifice that, together with 
the death of Herakles on the pyre, crowned the great calendar 
festival, the Eniautos-festival, had a like symbolism. Twelve 
' perfect bulls ' stood for the twelve years, but in all the victims 
were a hundred, to save the face of the hundred moons in the 
octennial moon-cycle. 

It may be that neither Sophocles nor his predecessors in 
shaping the legend, Peisander and Panyasis, were actually aware 
that Herakles was a daimon of the Sun- Year, but more, much 
more, than conscious knowledge goes to the making of poetry. 
Anyhow, the chorus, the maidens of Trachis at their first entry 2 , 
strike a note strangely appropriate. They would fain know where 
tarries the son of Alkmena. To whom do they appeal ? 

' Thou whom Night as the stars die bringeth to birth 

And layeth to bed all ablaze, 
Helios, Helios, speak : where over the earth 
Move his wandering ways?' 

In orthodox fashion the maidens explain that their appeal is to 
Helios because he is all-seeing. 

'Speak, thou of the seeing eye 3 .' 

But the real reason lies deeper ; the Sun and only the Sun knows 
where Herakles is, for Herakles is a daimon of the Sun- Year 4 . 

1 See Dr Verrall, The Calendar in the Trachiniae of Sophocles, Class. Rev. x. 
1896, p. 85, to which I must refer for details of a somewhat complicated argument. 
No one will tax Dr Verrall with a parti pris for Sun-Myths. He saj's expressly 
'Our proposition is simply that, in respect of the chronological framework, the 
story presented in the Trachiniae exhibits, and is founded upon, a certain calendar 
and certain institutions relating to the calendar which existed when the story was 
first thrown into this shape.' 

2 v. 94. ■■ v. 101. 

4 In just the same fashion, as I have tried to show elsewhere (Helios-Hades, 
Class. Rev. xxn. (1908), p. 15), Demeter appeals to Helios to know who has ravished 
her daughter, and Helios himself is the ravisher as Helios-Hadtj.-. 

h. 24 

370 From Daimon to Olympian, [ch. 

In much of his mythology that cannot be examined here, 
Herakles is but the humanized double of Helios 1 . It is from the 
sun he borrows his tireless energy. As the young sun he fights 
with Hades the setting sun at Pylos. As again the rising sun he 
rescues Alcestis from the shades. If such cases seem to any to be 
dubious, there is one adventure that admits of no alternative 
interpretation. Helios, Apollodorus tells us, so admired the cour- 
age of Herakles in shooting at him, that he gave to the hero a 
golden cup in which he might cross the ocean. Helios had but 
one cup to give, the golden cup in which he himself sailed and 
slept at sunset. 

Surely the Sun has labour all his days, 
And never any respite, steeds nor god, 
Since Eos first, whose hands are rosy rays, 
Ocean forsook, and Heaven's high pathway trod ; 
All night across the sea that wondrous bed 
Shell-hollow, beaten by Hephaistos' hand, 
Of winged gold and gorgeous, bears his head 
Half-waking on the wave from eve's red strand 
To the Ethiop shore, where steeds and chariot are, 
Keen hearted, waiting for the morning star 2 . 

After the magical words the vase-painting in Fig. 100 is more 
like a blasphemy than an illustration. Yet it is instructive. The 
human Herakles was never meant to sail in the sun's boat, but 
orthodox anthropomorphism demands it ; room or no room, in he 
must go, to sail but not to sleep. 

Herakles as Idaean Daktyl. 

The Herakles of the Trachiniae as fertility and Year-daimon 
helps us to understand another aspect of the hero that much 
embarrassed the piety of Pausanias 3 . At Thespiae he visited the 

1 I would guard against misunderstanding. Herakles takes on the form of an 
Eniautos-dainion, and therefore has solar elements, but these do not exhaust his 
content. The same is true of Apollo, Odysseus, Orpheus and Dionysos, and indeed 
of almost all gods and daimones. The reaction against certain erroneous develop- 
ments of solar mythology has led, as I have long pointed out, to the neglect of 
these elements. 

- Mimnermos, frg. of Nanno. I borrow this translation from Prof. Murray's 
History of Greek Literature, p. 81. 

3 ix. 27. 6. The nature of the Thespian cult of Herakles and his character as an 
Idaean Daktyl have been convincingly demonstrated by Dr Kaibel in his brilliant 
monograph, Daktyloi Idaioi in Nachrichten d. k. Ges. d. Wiss. zu Gottingen, 
phil.-hist. Kl. 1901, p. 506 if. For Herakles as Eniautos-daimon the responsibility 
is mine. The phallic daimon is long-lived. Dr Usener has convincingly shown in 
his Der heilige Tijchon, 1907, that Priapos may survive in the hagiology of a 
Christian Saint. 


Herakles as Idaean Daktyl 


sanctuary of Herakles and heard the story of the fifty daughters 
of Thestios. Pausanias cannot reconcile a 
legend so discreditable with what he knows 
of Herakles son of Amphitryon, so he 
suggests another and an earlier Herakles. 

' I judged the sanctuary to belong to the 
Herakles who is called one of the Idaean Daktyls, 
the same of whom I found sanctuaries at Erythrae 
in Ionia and at Tyre. Nor are the Boeotians 
ignorant of this name of Herakles, for they say 
themselves that the sanctuary of Mycalessian 
Demeter is entrusted to the Idaean Herakles.' 

What manner of daimon this Herakles, 
this Uaktyl, was is made abundantly clear 
from this very cult of Mycalessian Demeter 
to which Pausanias refers. At Mycalessos 
close to the Euripos Demeter had a 
sanctuary. Fig. 100. 

They say that it is closed every night and opened again by Herakles, who 
is said to be one of the so-called Idaean Daktyls. Here a miracle is exhibited. 
Before the feet of the image they place whatever fruits the earth bears in 
autumn and these keep the bloom upon them the whole year round K 

It is a pankarpia. Such magical fruits, with upon them a bloom 
that is perennial rather than immortal, does the Eniautos-daimon 
carry in his Eiresione and hold for ever in his cornucopia. 

Herakles, the Idaean Daktyl, brought fertility to plants but 
also to man. His cornucopia is for fruits, but sometimes it holds 
phattoi 2 . That is why his cult is at Thespiae : he and every 
fertility-daimon is but another Eros 3 . Because Eros is human 
there is excess and ugliness waiting to shadow and distort nature's 
lovely temperance. The saga of the daughters of Thestios was 
ugly and polygamous, but the cult was magical and austere. At 
the sanctuary of Herakles at Thespiae Pausanias 4 tells us 

A virgin acts as his priestess till her death. 

1 Paus. IX. 19. 5 ...8<xa ei> diruipq. iri(pVK€v i) yrj <pepeti> a 5ia ttclvtos /livei TedyfKbra 

2 See the bronze Gallo-Greek statuette in Dr A. Coulson's collection at Noyon. 
Gazette published by him, Hermes Phallophore, Gazette Arch. 1877, pi. 26. The 
liknon, whose function is the same as that of the cornucopia, often contains a phallos 
as well as fruits. See Prolegomena, Figs. 148 and 149. 

3 For Eros as Herm and his kinship with Priapos see Prolegomena, p. 631. 
1 ix. 27. 6. 


372 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

Herakles then, till saga caught and transformed him, was an 
Idaean Daktyl and as such own brother to the Kouretes, the 
Korybantes and the Satyrs 1 . We wonder no longer that it was 
Herakles the eldest of the Idaean Daktyls who founded the 
Olympic games. It is not merely that there may have been 
early immigrants from Crete, it is certainly not because Herakles 
was the strong man of the Twelve Labours, it is because Herakles, 
the Idaean Daktyl, was as Megistos Kouros the fertility-daimon 
of the year. Therefore he was Kladophoros, Thallophoros 2 . Hero- 
daimon though he be, with branch and cornucopia, with Twelve 
Labours like the Sun and, Sun-like, sailing in a golden cup, yet 
no effort is spared to make of Herakles a regular Olympian. In 
literature he has his apotheosis, on vase-paintings he is formally 
' received into Olympos,' brought by Athena his patron up to the 
very throne of Zeus 3 . Tradition even said that Hera passed him 
through her robe to make him by adoption her real son 4 . Yet 
though he is always being ' received ' and ' adopted ' he never 
attains real godhead 5 . 

Why is this ? What is it that eternally bars the gate of 
Olympos ? We shall find the answer in a study of his twofold 

Ritual of Herakles as Year-Daimon. 

The failure of Herakles to gain admission to Olympos is the 
more remarkable because we have clear evidence that he was 
worshipped in part with the same ritual as the Olympians them- 
selves. Pausanias 6 when visiting the sanctuary of Herakles at 
Sekyon observes as follows. 

They say that Phaistos when he came to Sekyon found them devoting 
offerings (ei>ayi£ovTas) to Herakles as to a hero. But Phaistos would do 
nothing of the kind but would offer burnt offering (Oveiv) to him as to a god. 
And even now the Sekyonians, when they slay a lamb and burn the thighs 
upon the altar, eat a portion of the flesh as though it were a sacrificial victim, 
and another part of the flesh they devote (evayi(ov<ri) as though to a hero. 

1 For the Satyrs see infra, p. 423. 

2 Paus. v. 7. 7. See supra, p. 366. Therefore, too, I think he was Epitrapezios, 
for the winner in the agon was regularly feasted. The ugly saga-figure of Herakles 
as glutton and wine-bibber, so popular in comedy and Satyric plays, and not wholly 
absent from tragedy, has probably this beautiful origin. Thus hardly did saga deal 
with cultus. Like Dais (supra, p. 146), Thaleia is no mere goddess of banqueting 
and revels, she is the daimon of the magical fertility-feast. 

:; For instances see Roscher, Herakles, 2239. 

4 Diod. Sic. iv. 40. 5 See Prolegomena, p. 347. 

G ii. 10. 1. For details as to the ritual of evayi^eiv see Prolegomena, p. 55 ff. 

ix] Yearly Ritual of Herakles 373 

Phaistos it may be was the eponymous hero of Phaistos in 
Crete, and from Crete he may have brought to Sekyon 1 the ritual 
of an Ouranian Zeus. That ritual common to all Olympians was 
of course burnt sacrifice ; the worshipper ate part, the rest was 
a gift-sacrifice, etherialized by burning, that so in the form of 
a sweet savour it might reach the gods of the upper air. We 
have seen 2 in the rite of the panspermia practised on the day of 
the Chytroi that of the panspermia no man tasted, it was made 
over, tabued to Hermes Chthonios, it was an ivayurfios, a thing 
tabu. The reason in the case of the vegetarian sacrifice is clear, 
the seeds are wanted as seeds, that they may reappear as fruits in 
autumn. The same applies in the case of animal sacrifice, though 
to us the reasoning is less obvious. The flesh is made over, buried, 
or wholly burnt ; it is tabu, because it is wanted to fertilize the 
ground, like the pigs buried with the snakes and fir-cones at the 
Thesmophoria 3 . 

Herodotus 4 was evidently puzzled by the two-fold nature of 
Herakles. Finally he comes to the conclusion that 

Those of the Greeks do most wisely who have set up a double worship 
of Herakles and who offer burnt sacrifice to the one as an immortal and with 
the title Olympian, and to the other devote offerings as to a hero. 

The first of these wise Greeks who set up the double worship of 
Herakles were the Athenians. Diodorus Siculus 5 draws an 
instructive contrast between the practice at Athens and that of 
Opous and of Thebes : he says 

Menoitios, having sacrificed a boar and a bull and a ram, ordered them 
to make a yearly sacrifice at Opous and to do honour to Herakles as a hero. 
The Thebans did much the same, but the Athenians were the first to honour 
Herakles as a god with burnt sacrifices. 

To give Herakles his fitting honours (ri^al) as a hero 
Menoitios ordered a yearly sacrifice. The fact is cardinal ; and 

1 In Hesiod's days Sekyon was called Mekone. A change of name implies 
usually some change in population. Such may lie at the back of Hesiod's strange 
story about how Prometheus tricked Zeus. The ethnology of the ritual shift from 
ivayl^eiv to dveiv I must leave to others of wider competence. 

- Supra, p. 291. 

3 Supra, p. 266. 

4 ii. 44 Kal doniovcn 5e /jlol ovtol opObrara 'RW-qvwv woieeiv, ol bii^d 'HpaK\eia 
idpvodixevoi ^KTrjVTai, Kal ry fiev ws ddavdrip Ov\v/j.iriLp 5e eirwvvp.i-qv dvovcn, rip 5£ erepip 
<iis ripoSi ivayi^ovcn. 

5 IV. 39 K&irpov Kal ravpov Kal Kpibv dvaas ws rjpoji Karebei^e Kar evtavrbv ev 'Ottovvti 
dOetv Kal Tifiav u>s ijpua rbv 'HpaK\4a — rb irapair\7)<jiov 5e ■woi-qaavToiv Kal tCov Qrifiaiwv, 
' Adrjvaioi. TrpQroi tQv dWoov ws debv (Ttfj.riaav Ovcriats rbv Hjoa/cXe'a. 

374 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

yet, because the notion of the Eniautos-daimon lay undetected, 
its true significance is never seen. Here and there a careful 
writer 1 will note that the hero-sacrifice is yearly, but in per- 
functory fashion for completeness sake. The reason for the yearly 
recurrence is never given, it is not even asked. Once the Eniautos- 
daimon comes to his own, and once it is recognized that it is his 
mask which each and every individual dead man eventually puts 
on, once it is seen that he, not the individual dead man, is the 
real ' Strong One,' ' Venerable One,' the essential ' Hero,' on whom 
the luck and life of the year depend, then the need for honours 
that shall be yearly is instantly evident. 

We need not multiply instances. Not only to Herakles are 
the yearly dues paid but to a host of others whom we think of 
merely or mainly as the heroes of saga, to Tereus 2 , Melampous 3 , 
Neoptolemos 4 , Achilles, Tleptolemos. Tleptolemos is specially 
interesting. From Pindar 5 Ave should never guess that Tleptole- 
mos had yearly dues or indeed that he was anything but a 
magnificent ancestor of Diagoras to whom sacrifice was done ' as 
to a god.' But the scholiast lets out a fact instructive to us if 
somewhat compromising to Pindar. He tells that there was a 
yearly panegyris and agon in honour of Tleptolemos and called by 
his name, but he adds 

It was by way of compliment that Pindar transferred to Tleptolemos the 
agon performed in honour of Helios. 

1 Dr Nilsson in his Griechische Feste, 1906, p. 454, quotes Stengel as observing 
that 'wohl alle Heroenopfer jahrlich wiederkehrten,' but so little does he see the 
importance of the fact or the real gist of a 'hero' that in the preceding sentence 
he says 'eine vollstandige Behandlung (der Heroen-Kulte) gehort nicht in die 
Heortologie.' Kohde in his brilliant Psyche, 1894, deals in detail with the yearly 
agones for the dead, but with no hint of why they are yearly. Deneken in his 
admirable article, Heros, in Eoscher's Lexicon, does not, I think, even mention 
the fact. In this matter I have been myself an equal offender. In discussing 
(Prolegomena, pp. 55 — 76 and 326 — 359) the ritual of the dead and of heroes and its 
chthouic character, I never even observed, much less understood, the fact that this 
ritual was annual. 

2 Paus. I. 41. 9 duovaiv ava irav £ros. 

3 Paus. I. 44. 5 Kai diovcn rip ~MeX&fnro5i Kai ava. Tray £tos ioprrjv dyovtri. 

4 Kai oi {"SeowToXe/jap) Kara eros evayifovcriv oi AeX<pul. 

5 01. vn. 77 

t69l Xvrpov ffvfjL(popcis oiKTpas 7\uvu TXawoXifjup 
'iCTaraL 'Yipvvdiwv apxayeTa 
UXTTTip deip 

HrfXwv re Kvuraeaaa wop-ira Kai Kpiffis d/jLcp' de^Xots. 
Schol. ad loc. 5e 6 HivSapos tov dy&j'a 'HXiip TiXov/xevov els rbv 
TXTjiroXepiov fxerriyaye ; and again more forcibly exf/evcraTO 5e 6 Wlvdapof ou yap 
TXrjTroXe'p.ixi 6 ayLov eTriTeXelrai, ti2 5e H\iy Tideaai. rbv ayQiva, ws "larpos (pycriv ev rrj 
irepi twv HAioi' aythvwv • 'P65toi Ti6ea<nv HXiov ei>'P65u> yvptviKov o~Te<paviTT]v dyCova. 

ix] Yearly Ritual of Heroes 375 

The ritual of a hero was that of a year-daimon and hence often 

of a sun-daimon, and this explains why heroes were worshipped 

at sunset. This was much more than a mere poetical way of 

expressing that the hero's life was westering. It was magical. 

You emphasize death that you may ensure resurrection. At Elis 

Pausanias 1 tells us 

Achilles had not an altar but a cenotaph erected in consequence of an 
oracle. At the beginning of the festival on a fixed day about the setting of the 
sun the women of Elis perform other ceremonies in honour of Achilles and it 
is their custom to bewail him. 

The women of Elis we remember 2 ' summoned ' the bull-daimon 
in the spring. Here we have them raising a threnos over the 
dead day and the dead year 3 . 

The notion that to the hero the sacrifice must be yearly went 
on into historical times. It is this yearly character and this only 
that explains the nature of the offerings. Thucydides is evidence 
of both. Hard pressed in the Peloponnesian War, the Plataeans 
thus appeal to the Lacedaemonians : 

'Cast your eyes upon the tombs of your fathers slain by the Persians and 
buried in our land. Them do we honour year by year with a public gift of 
raiment and other wonted offerings and of whatsoever the earth brings forth in 
its season, of all these things we bring to them thefrstfruits*.' 

The Plataeans themselves — or at least Thucydides — do not 
really understand. He thinks it is because the earth is just 
a ' friendly land ' to the dead heroes. It really is that they, 
the ancestors, have a pankarpia which they, like the Australian 
ancestors of the Alcheringa time, may turn into a panspermia. 
This is their perennial function as Year-daimones. 

Much that remains valid has been written as to the distinction 
between a chthonic and Olympian ritual, between the consecrations 
(evayia/nol) of heroes, chthonic divinities and the burnt offerings 
(Ov/bcara) of the Olympians, between the low-lying eschara and the 
high stone bomos. It has been seen and rightly that heroes 
and chthonic divinities have a common ritual, save that to heroes 

1 vi. 23. 3. 2 Supra, p. 205. 

3 For the relation of the setting-sun to Hades see ray Hclios-Hadex, Class. Kev. 
xxn. 1908, p. 12, and for sun-aspects of Achilles see Otto Seeck, Geschichte des 
Vntergangs der antiken Welt, 1902, vol. n. p. 579. 

4 Thucyd. ill. 58 . ..oi)s iTifxCi/xev Kara tros 'inaaTov dri/uLoaia eadrjiiaal re ko.1 tols 
aXXots vofxi/xoLS, oca re if) yrj 7)p.Qiv dveSioov wpala tt6.vtwv airapxas twMpipovTts evvoi fj.ev 
€K (pikLas x^pus- See also Porphyry (de Abst. iv. 22) who says that Draco laid it 
down as an eternal ordinance that heroes as well as gods should receive offerings of 
'yearly pelanoi.' 


From Daimon to Olympian 


as being more recent in sanctity wine is offered. All this is true, 
but not the whole, nor even I think the main truth. The real 
distinction is that heroes and chthonic divinities are Year-daimones 
who die to rise again. The Olympians are, and, as will presently 1 
be seen, it is nowise to their credit, Immortals (dOdvaroi). It is 
as Year-daimones that Heroes have chthonic ritual with all its 
characteristic apparatus of low-lying altars, of sunset sacrifices, and 
above all of the pankarpia. 

Herakles as Alexikakos of Epheboi. 

We return to Herakles whose content is not yet exhausted. 

The relief- on Fig. 101 shows 
us the Hero in front of his 
own Heroon, a small shrine on 
a stepped basis and consisting 
only of four pillars and a roof. 
'// The shrine is not large enough 
to hold the great humanized 
hero, and probably at first it 
held no figure at all, only a 
sacred pot, a kadis/cos, with a 
panspermia, or perhaps again 
a slab with a holy snake. 
Around the shrine is a sacred 
grove as befits a daimon of fertility. The worshippers approach 
bringing a bull. The bull will be sacrificed to the hero whose 
animal shape he once was 3 . The character of a Herakleion is 
shown very clearly in Fig. 102, from a Lower Italy amphora 4 . The 
design also emphasizes in singular fashion the somewhat strained 
relations between saga and daimon-cult. The scene is from a lost 
tragedy the plot of which is preserved for us by Hyginus 5 . 
Haemon is bidden to kill Antigone ; he saves her and she bears 

1 Infra, chapter x. 

2 A. Frickenhaus, Das Herakleion von Melite, A. Mitt, xxxvi. 1911, Taf. n. 2. 
The reliefs in Figs. 101 and 104 are reproduced by kind permission of Dr Frickenhaus. 

3 Cf. C.I.G. 1688, 32 tov /3oos tl/hol tov Tjpwos enarbv crra-r^pes Aiyivcuoi. I do not 
feel certain whether this is to be construed 'the price of the Hero-Ox' or 'the price 
of the ox of the hero,' but in any case hero and ox are intimately linked. 

4 In the Ruvo coll., Mon. d. Inst. x. 1848, Tav. xxvi., and Klugmann, Annali, 
1848, p. 177. 

5 Fab. lxxii. ...hunc Creon rex, quod ex draconteo genere omnes in corpore 
insigne habebant, cognovit, cum Hercules pro Haemone deprecatur ut ei ignosceret 
non impetravit. 

Fig. 101. 

ix] Her okles as Alexikakos 377 

a child to him. The child grown to manhood comes to the games 
at Thebes and is recognized as of royal race by the mark on his 
body. Herakles begs Creon to pardon Haemon but his prayer is 
refused. Haemon kills himself and Antigone. 


/ y 

• t 

* 4" ' 

' V s 


Fro. 102. 

The story is of great interest because of the recognition by 
some body-mark of the child as belonging to the ' dragon's seed.' 
To this we shall later 1 return, but for the present it is the figure of 
Herakles that concerns us. In the saga he, for some reason not 
given, asks Creon a favour. He is no daimon ; he is just one mortal 
of royal race asking a boon of another. But art is more conserva- 
tive. Herakles was the hero of Thebes and on the amphora his 
heroon, marked by his name 2 , bulks proportionately large. He, 
not Creon, for all Creon's kingly sceptre, is the Hero to be 
intreated. It is a strange instructive fusion and confusion of two 
strata of thinking. 

On the reverse of the Ruvo amphora in Fig. 103 we have the 
same heroon. In it is seated the figure of a woman with mirror 
and toilet-box after the fashion of an Attic grave-relief. She is 
the correlative of the Herakles on the other side ; she by dying 
is heroized. By that time any individual dead man or woman 
might be heroized. The two sides of the vase give us a strange 
blend of daimon- cult, of saga, and of daily life. 

1 Infra, p. 434. 

2 Haemon, Antigone, Creon, and the local nymph Ismene are also all clearly 
inscribed. The other figures are uncertain and unimportant. 


From Daimon to Olympian 


The relief 1 in Fig. 104 enables us to give to the figure of 

Herakles a local habitation and a 
name. The inscription on the basis 
of the little shrine is clear — ' Of 
Herakles Alexikakos'V As ' Defender 
from Evil ' Herakles was worshipped 
in the deme of Melite, the Pnyx 
region of Athens. Again the hero 
stands close to and overtopping his 
little shrine. The shrine is sur- 
mounted by a great krater on a 
pedestal. Krater and pedestal to- 
gether are about half the height of 
the shrine itself. Whom is Herakles 
to defend from evil ? The worshipper 
only approaches; an ephebos, like in 
age and stature to Herakles himself, 
save that he wears cloak and petasos. 
Is there any link between the great 
krater and the youth and Herakles 
'Defender from Evil'? It happens 
that, in very singular and instructive 
fashion there is, and by a happy 

chance we know it. 

Photius 3 in a priceless gloss thus explains the word olvi\a\ar^pLa 


Fig. 103. 


A libation to Herakles performed by the epheboi before the cutting of their 

Photius gives as his authority a play of Eupolis, the Demoi. 
We should guess therefore that the custom was Athenian, but 

1 A. Mitt, xxxvi. 1911, Taf. n. 

2 For Herakles in Melite. see my Primitive Athens, pp. 146 — 152. Dr Frickenhaus 
holds that the triangular precinct with the wine-press, excavated by Dr Dorpfeld, 
and by him explained as the old sanctuary of Dionysos-in-the-Marshes, is the 
Herakieion in Melite. I followed Dr Dorpfeld, and this is not the place to re-examine 
a question mainly topographical, but if Dr Frickenhaus's most interesting theory 
be true, and we have a Herakieion close to the old orchestra, it may, as Prof. Murray 
suggested to me, throw an odd light on the Herakles disguise assumed by the 
Dionysos of the Frogs. Both are Kouroi; both, as will immediately be seen, have 
a wine- service. So the shift from one to another is not as great as it seems. 

3 s.v. oit>i[a]crTT}pta ' airovby} tiZ "HpaKXei eTriTeXovfJ.tvr) inrb tQiv i(pr)^wv trplv 
aTTOKeipacrdai.. Ei<7roXis Ar)p.ois. 


Her aMes as Greatest Kouros 


fortunately we know it for certain. Hesychius 1 , explaining the 
same word oinisteria, says : 

At Athens those who are about to become epheboi before the lock of 
hair is cut bring to Herakles a measure of wine and when they have poured 
libation they give to drink to those who come with them. And the libation is 
called oinisteria. 

Athenaeus 2 adds the authority of Pamphilos and says that 
the great cup of wine offered was called an oinisteria. 

Fig. 104. 

To Herakles as to the Agathos Daimon at the Pithoigia 3 is 
offered a libation of wine. To Herakles as to Hippolytos 4 is 
offered the shorn lock, because he is the Greatest Kouros, 
Herakulos 'the young, dear hero.' In the light of the offering 
of the lock, the sign and the vehicle of the bloom of youth, some 
of the athla of Herakles which have seemed insignificant, not to say 
ignoble, are instantly understood. He the Greatest Kouros swings 
his klados, his branch from the tree of life, against a pygmy ker, 
with shrunken body and distorted face. It is youth against 
noisome disease and death. He the Greatest Kouros lifts his 

1 s.v. oivLffTTioia- ' X9r}v7i<ri oi neWovres icpTifieveiv irplv aTroKeipacrdai rbv fiaXXov 
elcrcpepovcnv (etv MS.) 'Hpa/cAei p.irpov o'Cvov ko.1 ffirdcravTes rots crvvekdovcnv ewcdioow 
flveiv " i] dt cnrovdr] eKaXelro olvicrrripia. 

- xi. 494 olvicrr-qpta ■ ol fieXXopres dwoKelpeif rbv ckoWov ^(prj^oi <$>r\al ITd/x0tXoy 
elo~<p{pov<n ti2 'Hpa/cXe? p.eya iroT-qpiov o'lvov 6 koKovulv oivLo~T7]plav ko.1 ffireiaavTes tois 
ovvtKdovai iriveiv. 

3 Supra, p. 288. 4 Supra, p. 337. 

380 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

liados to slay the shrivelled ugly figure leaning on his stick and 
inscribed yr/pas, Old Age 1 . 

We blossom like the leaves that, come in spring, 
What time the sun begins to flame and glow, 

And in the brief span of youth's gladdening 
Nor good nor evil from the gods we know, 

But always at the goal black Keres stand 

Holding, one grievous Age, one Death within her hand 2 . 

We understand also now why constant emphasis is laid on 
the fact that Herakles was initiated. On a cinerary urn in the 
Museo delle Terme 3 Herakles leaning on his club stands in the 
presence of Demeter and fondles the sacred snake that is twined 
about her. The scholiast on the Ploutos A of Aristophanes tells 
us that the mysteries at Agrae were founded in order that 
Herakles might be initiated. He is the prototype, the pro- 
jection, of the initiate youth, he as Alexikakos defends the boy 
in his rite de passage to and through the perils of manhood 5 . 
Later the initiation into the tribe is viewed as initiation into a 
' mystery.' 

And, finally, we see the reality and significance of what has 
hitherto seemed a somewhat frigid conceit, the marriage of 
Herakles and Hebe. In the Nekuia 6 Odysseus sees Herakles 
in Hades and is perplexed, for orthodoxy demanded that Herakles 
should be in Olympos feasting w r ith his bride Hebe. Odysseus, 
or rather the poet, betrays his embarrassment : 

Next Herakles' great strength I looked upon — 
His shadow — for the man himself is gone 
To join him with the gods immortal ; there 
He feasts and hath for bride Hebe the fair. 

Herakles the Ephebos, the Kouros, is fitly wedded to Hebe, 

1 See the two vases reproduced in Prolegomena, Figs. 17 and 18. When I 
discussed them (op. cit. pp. 160, 174) I did not at all understand the significance of 
Herakles as Greatest Kouros. 

2 Mimnermos, 2. 

3 Helbig Cat. 1168. Lovatelli, Ant. Mon. illustr. p. 25 ff. tav. n. — iv. Repro- 
duced Prolegomena, p. 547, Figs. 155, 156. 

4 Ad v. 845. 

5 In previously discussing the initiation of Herakles (Primitive Athens, 1906, 
p. 147) I have, I thiuk, over-emphasized the fact that he was always regarded as an 
immigrant ; foreign elements entered undoubtedly into his cult, but I now believe 
him to be in the main home-grown. 

» Horn. Od. xi. 601. 

ix] Asklepios as Year-Daimon 381 

maiden-youth in its first bloom, who is but the young form of 
Hera Teleia 1 , the Kore. 

Herakles, it is abundantly clear from his cornucopia, is Agathos 
Daimon ; but if so, we naturally ask where is his characteristic 
snake? He has no kerykeion, no snake-twined staff; his body 
never ends, like that of Cecrops, in a snake's tail. Olympos did 
not gladly suffer snakes, and Herakles, aiming at Olympos, wisely 
sloughed off his snake-nature. While yet in his cradle he slew 
the two snakes that attacked him and his twin brother Iphikles 2 . 
We shall later 3 see the significance of this snake-slaying which 
is common to many heroes and which culminates as it were in 
the myth of the slaying of the Python of Apollo. 

Another hero-daimon Saviour and Defender like Herakles was 
less prudent ; he kept his snake and stayed outside Olympos, the 
great Hero-Healer with the snake-twined staff, Asklepios. 


Asklepios is a god but no Olympian ; his art-type is modelled 
on that of Zeus ; he is bearded, benign, venerable ; he is, in fact, 
the Zeus of daimon-heroes. He never becomes an Olympian 
because he remains functional rather than personal, he is always 
the Saviour-Healer. 

On the snake-aspect of Asklepios it is needless to dwell, it is 
manifest 4 . When it was desired to introduce the cult of the god 
from Epidauros 5 , a sacred snake was sent for whether to Rome or 
Athens. In art as a rule the snake is twined about his staff, but 

1 For Hebe as Ganymeda and her ancient cult at Pblius see Prolegomena 
p. 325. For the relations of Hebe to Heva, and of both to Herakles, I may refer 
forward to Mr Cook's Zeus. 

2 Herakles slaying the snakes appears on silver coins of Thebes and on red- 
figured vases. See Roscher, Lexicon, s.v. Herakles. The origin of the twin nature 
of so many 'heroes' of Daktyl type has been explained by Dr Kaibel, op. cit., and 
does not here concern us. 

3 Infra, pp. 429—436. 

4 For details as to the snake-origin of Asklepios see my Prolegomena, p. 342. 
Fick, in Bezzenberger's Beitrage, 1901, p. 313, suggests that the difficult name 
Asklepios is connected with aKakairaty, to turn round and round. Hesychius 
explains aKaXaird^ei as pl^erai — he coils or rolls round. 

5 Paus. viii. 8. 4, n. 10. 3, in. 23. 7. 

382 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

in the relief 1 in Fig. 105 the simple truth is patent: the god in 

Fig. 10.5. 

human form leans on his staff awaiting his worshippers, the holy 
snake behind him is his equal in stature and in majesty. It was 
in the precinct of Asklepios at Epidauros that the relief in Fig. 75 
was found, dedicated to the Agathos Theos 2 with his cornucopia 
and sacred snake. 

But if the snake-aspect of Asklepios is evident and, I believe, 
now accepted, there are two other elements in his cult that show 
him to be a fertility-daimon and that have hitherto not I think 
been rightly understood, the figure of Telesphoros and the snake- 
twined omphalos. 

On many coins of Asia Minor of Roman date, and especially 
on those of Pergamos there appears in connection with Asklepios 

1 Athens, Central Museum Cat. 1407. In previously publishing this relief 
(Prolegomena, p. 312) I did not understand the relation of the snake to the Agathos 

2 Supra, p. 285. 


Telesphoros as Year-Dalmon 


types the figure of a child or dwarf wearing a cloak and high 
peaked hat. The three coins 1 in Fig. 106 are typical. In the 
central coin of the three we have a sacred tree and round it is 
coiled a snake. An emperor salutes the holy beast. Between 
the snake and the emperor is the figure of the child Telesphoros. 
To the right, on a coin of Pergamos, the same child occupies the 
whole field ; on the left, again a coin of Pergamos, he stands in a 
shrine of the same type as the Herakleion in Fig. 102. 

§-<■& I. • 

Fig. 106. 

Numismatists have long ago found for the child daimon the 
right name : he is Telesphoros 2 , but just because the needful clue 
was missing, the name lacked its true meaning. Telesphoros, we 
are told, was the ' daimon of convalescence.' Telesphoros is 
wrapped in a cloak because invalids when convalescent wear 
shawls. For his peaked hat as yet no such satisfactory explanation 
has been found. The blunder is an odd one, for to pronounce the 
adjective telesphoros is to call up the missing noun: 

evda nap avrS pelva TfXea(p6pov els eviavrov 3 . 

Asklepios, with his staff and venerable beard, is Old Father 
Christmas, Telesphoros is the Happy New Year 4 . Under the 
influence of patriarchy and Zeus the venerable type of the 
Eniautos-daimon obtains, and, save in remote Asia Minor, the 
Kouros form is forgotten. At Pergamos he lives on clad like the 
infant Dioscuri 5 in pointed cap and hooded cloak. 

1 Num. Chron. Serie in. Vol. n. PI. 1. 

2 Warwick Wroth, Telesphoros, J.H.S. 1882. See especially p. 297 for the 
curious bronze statuette of Telesphoros with peaked hood. The upper part when 
lifted off discloses a phallos, symbol of regeneration. 

3 Horn. Od. xiv. 292. For ivuxvrbs and Tekeacpbpos see supra, p. 183. 

4 For similar child-figures see supra, pp. 187 and 188. 

5 Cf. the children wearing peaked hats in votive terra cottas to the Anakes. See 
my Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, p. 154, Fig. 32. 


From Daimon to Olympian 


The snake-twined omphalos. We connect Asklepios with the 
snake but not with the omphalos, yet on the coin 1 of Pergamos in 
Fig. 107 the association is clear. On the obverse we have the 

Fig. 107. 

head of the god, of the usual bearded benevolent Zeus-like type, 
on the reverse a netted omphalos round which coils a great snake 
with upreared head. The mention of the omphalos brings Delphi 
instantly to our minds, but it must be clearly noted that the 
omphalos is not at Delphi only. The omphalos is of Ge rather 
than of Apollo, and wherever there is worship of Mother-Earth 
there we may expect the omphalos. We find it at Eleusis, 
clearly figured on the Ninnion pinax 2 , the centre of the whole 
design. We meet it again at Phlius 3 . Asklepios himself then 
is a snake-daimon, twined round the omphalos of Ge. He is but 
the daimon of the fertility of the Earth. As such he never 
passes wholly to the upper air of the Olympians. He remains a 
Saviour and a Healer, loved of the dream-oracle, very near to 
earth and to man. 

Herakles then and Asklepios, though as Saviours and Healers 
they are greater than any Olympians, never became really 
Olympianized. Their function is to make us feel how thin and 
chill, for all their painted splendour, are these gods who live at 
ease in the upper air, how much they lose when they shake off 
mortality and their feet leave the earth who was their mother. 

We now pass to the examination of a god who was perhaps 
more Olympian than any Olympian, more serene, more radiantly 
splendid, more aloof, more utterly in the fullest sense of the word 
superior. By a fortunate chance we shall study him where his 
cult and figure are brought into direct contrast and even conflict 

1 Num. Chron. in. vol. n. PI. 1, p. 23. 

2 See Prolegomena, p. 559, Pig. 160. 

:! Paus. ii. 13. 7. 

ix] Prologue to the Eumenides 385 

with the old sanctities of Earth and her daimones at Delphi, 

Phoibos, on Earth's mid navel o'er the world 

Enthroned, weaveth in eternal song 

The sooth of all that is or is to be 1 . 

The Sequence of Cults at Delphi from Gaia to Apollo. 

It happens that, as to the cults of Delphi, we have a document 
of quite singular interest, no less a thing than an official state- 
ment from the mouth of the local priestess of the various 
divinities worshipped at Delphi, and — a matter of supreme 
importance — the traditional order of their succession. Delphi 
was the acknowledged religious centre of Greece, and nowhere 
else have we anything at all comparable in definiteness to this 
statement. Thrice familiar though the passage is, it has not 
I think been quite fully understood. It must therefore be 
examined somewhat in detail. The prologue of the Eumenides 
spoken by the priestess of Apollo opens thus : 

First in my prayer before all other gods 
I call on Earth, primaeval prophetess. 
Next Themis on her mother's mantic throne 
Sat, so men say. Third by unforced consent 
Another Titan, daughter too of earth, 
Phoibe possessed it. She for birthday gift 
Gave it to Phoibos, and he took her name. 

With divination Zeus inspired his soul, 

And stablished him as seer, the fourth in time, 

But Loxias speaks the mind of Zeus his sire 2 . 

Such are the opening words of the prologue to the Eumenides, 
and they are more truly of prologue 3 character than perhaps at 
first appears. They set forth or rather conceal the real agon of 

1 Eur. Ion, 5. 

2 Msch. Eum. 1—8 and 17—19 

IlpuiTov fiev e vXV T V^ e Tpe&pevw 6eQv 
tt]v irpuTdfj-avTiv Tcuav iK 8e ttjs Qifxiv, 
fj dri to fiTjrpos Sevripa. rod' efero 
fxavTeiov, ws \6yos tis - iv 5e t£ rplrq) 
Xd%ef de\ovo~r]s ou8e wpos fiiav twos, 
Tiravis dWr] irals x^ ovos Kadei^ero 
Qoifir) ■ dldwcnv ft 1 rj yevedXiov $6o~iv 
4>o//3y to 4>oi'/3tjs 5' 6vop.' e^ei Tra.pwvvfji.ov. 

Tix vr l s & vw Zeus 'ivQf.ov ktIoo.% <pp£va, 
i'fet T^TapTov Tovde fiavTiv ev XP^ V0LS 
Aids Trpo<pT)Tris 5' io~Tl Ao^ias TraTpos. 

3 For function of Prologue see Prof. Murray, supra, p. 359. 

h. 25 

386 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

the play, the conflict between the new order and the old, the 
daimones of Earth, the Erinyes, and the theoi of Olympos, Apollo 
and his father Zeus, and further necessarily and inherently the 
conflict of the two social orders of which these daimones and 
theoi are in part the projections — matriarchy or, as it is better 
called, the matrilinear system and patriarchy. The conflict 
between the daimones of Earth and the Olympian Apollo will 
be discussed in the present chapter; the conflict of the two 
social orders as reflected in mythology must be reserved for 
the next. 

The statement of ^Eschylus is necessarily somewhat ex parte. 
He is a monotheist and moreover he is 'all for the Father.' In 
dealing with the religion of Delphi he is confronted with the 
awkward fact that Zeus at Delphi had no official cult, the oracle 
was in the hands of Apollo. Moreover that oracle was actually 
delivered by a woman seated over a cleft in the Earth and 
inspired not only by the laurel she chewed but by mephitic 
vapours that rose from the earth. In all this Zeus was — nowhere. 
Yet the supremacy of Zeus was to ^Eschylus the keystone of 
his beautiful faith in a right that was beyond might, a thing 
to be preserved even in the face of seeming facts. A lesser soul 
would have turned obscurantist, would have juggled with facts ; 
a more conventional mind would have accepted orthodox tradition 
and claimed that Apollo conquered by force. That to ^Eschylus 
was no conquest at all. The solution he gives us in the prologue 
is utterly vEschylean and in a sense strangely modern. There 
has been not a fight but a development 1 , not even, as in the agon 
of the play, a reconciliation and sudden conversion, but a gradual 
emergence and epiphany of godhead from strength to strength, 
from Gaia to Zeus. And, an interesting thing, ^Eschylus, as will 
shortly appear, was right. He gives us by the mouth of his 
priestess a sequence of cults which not only existed at Delphi 

1 The same notion of development comes out in the Prometheus, as has been 
well observed by Miss Janet Case (Class. Rev. 1902, p. 195). It has not, I think, 
been recognized in the Supplices, but Prof. Murray points out to me that the key- 
note of the play is the transition from violence to persuasion. Ares, who is ^Xd^rj 
— violence and hurt personified — must give way to Aphrodite as Peitho. So only 
can the Danaides, fertility-nymphs like the Semnae, bring peace and prosperity to 
the barren land. See also for the same idea in the story of Io, Rise of the Greek 
Epic 2 , p. 291. 

ix] Gaia and Themis 387 

but is found as a regular religious development over a great 
part of the civilized world. 

The chronological sequence at Delphi was as follows : 

(1) Gaia, 

(2) Themis, 

(3) Phoibe, 

(4) Phoibos. 

Zeus is not given as fifth, he is the crown and climax of all. 
Phoibos reigns, fourth in time but only as vice-gerent, as ( Ato<? 
7rpo<f)7]Tr)s,' not of course prophet in our sense, but utterer, exponent 
of his father's will 1 . 

Gaia is transparent. She stands for Earth and the powers of 
the Earth ; her sanctuary, the omphalos, will have to be considered 
in detail later. Themis is a conception so dominant, so integral 
to religion that her full consideration is reserved for our final 
chapter. In the figure of Themis, if we are right, we have 
the utterance, the projection and personification, of the religious 
principle itself. She will not be considered now because she is 
not really a link in the chain. Rather she is a figure who 
shadows and attends each of the others. She is the daughter 
and bye-form of Gaia. She delivers oracles, Be/Mares, ordinances, 
rather than prophecies in our sense, for both Phoibe and Phoibos ; 
she even ultimately ascends to high heaven and becomes the 
counsellor and wedded wife of Zeus himself. This will I hope be 
made clear in the final chapter ; for the present the reader is 
asked to substitute provisionally for the order: 

(1) Gaia, (1) Gaia and Themis, 

(2) Themis, this shortened succession (2) Phoibe and Themis, 

(3) Phoibe, (3) Phoibos and Themis. 

(4) Phoibos, 

Gaia then is the Earth and Phoibos is of course Phoibos- 
Apollo. The reason of his double title will appear later. But 
who is Phoibe ? Phoibos and Phoibe are seen, from the practical 
identity of name, to be beings of the same order, beings of 
brightness and purity 2 . It is odd that their real nature should 
have escaped commentators. Once stated it is simple and so 

1 See Dr VerralPs Eumenides, note to vv. 17 — 19 ; and for the prologue generally, 
his Introduction, p. xii. 

2 Cf. <poipovofAei<T0a.i to live in ritual purity ; see Prolegomena, p. 394. 


388 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

obvious. It has only lain so long concealed because of a dominant 
anthropomorphism. Phoebus is still to-day the Sun 1 . 

Hark, hark, the lark at heaven's gate sings, 
And Phoebus 'gins arise. 

And if Phoibos be the Sun, who is Phoibe but the Moon ? 

vEschylus gives no hint of the Moon nature of Phoibe. To 
him and to his commentators she seems simply a Titaness, one 
of the old order used as a bridge between Gaia and Phoibos- 
Apollo. But Latin poets, unconfused by anthropomorphism, never 
forget. Vergil 2 writes 

Iamque dies caelo concesserat: almaque curru 
Noctivago Phoebe medium puisabat Olympum, 

and again Ovid 3 with an eye on the mantic Apollo, 
Auguribus Phoebus, Phoebe venantibus adsit. 

But we are not left to Latin poets for evidence. We have 
the direct statement of Plutarch 4 — no better authority could be 
desired — that, according to Orphic tradition, the oracle at Delphi 
was held by Night and the Moon. This point is important for 
our sequence and must be clearly established. The statement 
occurs in the curious account given of one Thespesios 5 — an 
oddly magical name — and his spiritual adventures in the under- 

Thespesios and his guide arrive at a certain place — the topo- 
graphy is necessarily vague, where three daimones are seated at 
the angles of a triangle, and then 

The guide of the soul of Thespesios told him that Orpheus got as far as 
here, when he went to fetch the soul of his wife, and, from not clearly 
remembering, he published to mortals a false report that the oracle at Delphi 
v:as shared by Apollo and Night, whereas in no respect was there community 
between Night and Apollo. 'But this oracle,' said the guide, 'is held in 
common by Night and the Moon, not issuing out of the earth at any one 
place, nor having one particular seat, but it wanders everywhere among men 
in dreams and visions. Hence dreams receive and spread abroad a blend, as 
you see, of what is simple and true with what is complex and misleading.' 
'But the oracle,' he continued, 'of Apollo you cannot see clearly. For the 

1 The sense in which Phoibos may be said to ' be ' the Sun will be explained 
later (p. 392). To avoid misunderstanding it may be stated in advance that 
equivalence is not meant. Phoibos stands for the Sun-aspect of Apollo ; and 
Apollo has other aspects. Hence Phoibos is not the equivalent of Helios, still less 
is Apollo. The same applies to Phoibe, Artemis and the Moon. 

2 &n. x. 215. 3 Amores, m. 2. 51. 

4 De ser. num. vindict. xxn. 

5 His real name was Aridaeus. Thespesios was a new name given him. The 
whole account reads strongly like the account of an initiation ceremony. 

ix] Moon-oracle at Delphi 389 

earthiness of the soul will not relax nor permit it to soar upwards but keeps 
it down tight, held by the body.' Thereon leading him up to it, the guide 
sought to show Thespesios the light from the tripod which as he said shone 
through the bosom of Themis on to Parnassos. But much desiring to see it 
he could not for its brightness, but as he went by he heard the shrill voice 
of a woman uttering in verse, both other things and, as it seemed, the day of 
Thespesios' death. And the claimou said that that was the voice of the Sibyl who 
sang of what was to be as she was borne round in the face of the moon. And 
though he desired to bear more he was pushed away in the contrary direction 
by the swirl of the moon as though in a whirlpool, so that he only heard 
distinctly a little. 

The story of Thespesios is instructive. It reflects theological 
embarrassment. Local primitive tradition knew that the oracle 
at Delphi was of Earth and Night. Like the oracles of Amphia- 
raos, of Asklepios, and of the Panagia of Tenos to-day, it was, 
a dream-oracle, that came to you while sleeping on holy ground. 
The suppliants were probably like the Selloi at Dodona 'ya^iaievvati +» 
Couche rs-on-the-g round. But an overdone orthodoxy demanded 5 y/ 
that about Apollotnere should be nothing ' earthy ' and no deed 
or dream of darkness. A bridge, as with iEschylus, was built 
by way of Phoibe, who is always half of earth and half of heaven. 
To save the face of the resplendent Sun-God the Sibyl is set in 
the Face of the Moon 1 . 

Such mild obscurantism was dear to the gentle Plutarch but 
it would scarcely have availed but for a clear tradition of the 
Moon's sometime dominance at Delphi. And it would seem at 
Delos also. A bronze coin of Athens shows us in the field 
a copy of the cultus statue of Apollo made by Tektaios and 
Angelion for the sanctuary at Delos 2 . Apollo holds on his out- 
stretched hand three figures whom we may call Moirae, Horae, 
Charites, as we will 3 . They are, like all these triple figures, 
moon-phases, for, as we remember, according to Orpheus 4 'the 
Moirae are the divisions (ra /xeprj) of the Moon 5 .' On Delos 
dwelt Artemis and Apollo, in whom the Persians recognized their 
own Sun and Moon. Apollo as the Sun, on Delos as at Delphi, 

1 Plut. loc. cit.> t<£> Trpoau-rrip rrjs <re\r)vqs wepMpepo/u.evrji'. Plutarch says (de 
defect, orac. xm.) that some called the moon an acrrpov ■ye&b'es, others 6\vfx.wlav ~ir\v, 
so that she was well adapted as a transition from earth to heaven. 

2 Paus. ix. 35. 3. 

3 Pausanias, loc. cit., says the Apollo of Delos held Charites in his left hand. 
See the Athenian coin with Apollo and Charites on p. 444. For the shift between 
Moirae, Horae and Charites, see supra, pp. 189 — 192. 

4 Supra, p. 189, note 4. 

5 Hence they are children of Night, as in the Orphic Hymn to the Moirae, 
which begins Mailpai aireipicrioi ~Svktos <f>ika. r^Kva p.e\alvri$. 

390 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

succeeded to, took over, a service of the Moon. We no longer 
wonder why Thespesios at the place of the oracle found ' three 
daimones seated in triangular pattern 1 ,' nor why the light and 
Fate of the Moon ' shone through the bosom of Themis on to 
Parnassos 2 .' 

We have dwelt on the moon-character of Phoibe because, as 
in the sequence of cults enumerated by the priestess it has not 
been recognized, some insistence was needed. This sequence is 
now clearly before us, Earth, Moon, Sun. To our delight, though 
it should not be to our surprise, the same sequence that we met 
at Olympia 3 we now meet at Delphi, and this sequence it would 
appear is, for agricultural peoples, world-wide. 

For long, perhaps too long 4 , scholars have reacted against 
sun-mythology and moon- mythology. The reaction was of course 
brought about by the learned absurdities perpetrated in the name 
of these two great lights. The old error of Naturism 5 was to 
suppose that sun or moon or dawn or wind exhausted the content 
of a god. The new truth, born of psychology and sociology, is to 
recognize that, into the content of every man's experience and 
hence of every man's divinities, enter elements drawn not only 
from earth but from sun and moon. 

Mr Payne, in his remarkable, and to me most illuminating, 
History of the JSfeiu World, called America 6 , was, I believe, the first 
to call attention to this sequence of the gods. His testimony is 
specially valuable as arising out of a study of the religious facts 
of the New World, not the Old. After a long and interesting 
account of the great Earth Goddess of Mexico, he thus continues : 

Having thus surveyed the principal objects of worship belonging to the 
region of earth we pass on to consider next those belonging to the upper air 

1 Plut. loc. cit. eoipa 8e rpefc 8ai/xovas ofiov Ka0T}fievovs ii> axVt JLaTl rpiycbvov. We are 
reminded of Hekate and the crossways. 

2 Plut. loc. cit. 3 Suj)ra, p. 237. 

4 I have long protested against the excesses of tbis reaction. See Athenaeum 
(No. 4301), April 2, 1910, p. 404, in which I tried to indicate that each god, 'each 
and every divine name, is but as it were a focus round which conceptions cluster 
from heaven above as well as earth below.' The sequence of tbese theological 
conceptions I owe to Mr Payne, and their special relation to the calendar largely 
to Mr Cornford. 

5 The errors of the old Naturism have been admirably exposed by Prof. Durkheim 
in his Examen critique des systemes classiques sur les origines de la pensee religieuse, 
2nd article in Revue Philosophique, 1909, p. 142. 6 Vol. i. p. 474. 

ix] Sequence of Earth, Metarsia and Meteor a 391 

or firmament ; and lastly the heavenly bodies. If our conclusions are correct, 
the cultivator has universally followed the same order in his theological 
speculations. Beginning with the gods of the earth, he has advanced to the 
atmospheric powers or gods of the weather, powers which are at first conceived 
as dwelling on particular mountains, but are ultimately disengaged from the 
earth, and formed into a distinct class. He next infers that these important 
powers are subject to powers higher still, powers which regulate the winds 
and the rains, compelling them to recur at regular intervals, and through 
them exercising an ultimate control over the production of food and whatever 
else affects human life and fortune on earth. These powers are the sun, the 
moon and the stars. When this point has been reached the cycle is complete. 
No further progress, none at least on the old lines, is possible. 

Mr Payne carefully guards his statement against all excess : 

When it is said that man has begun by worshipping the terrestrial 
powers and has advanced successively to the worship of the atmospheric and 
the celestial, it is by no means meant that he does not, in the very earliest 
stages of advancement, recognize the wind and the rain, the sun and the 
moon, as objects exercising influence over his fortunes ; for such objects 
naturally awaken even in the savage mind the instincts of fear and veneration. 
What is meant is that the atmospheric and stellar powers take a prominent 
place in the incorporated family of men and gods, bound together by the 
covenant of sacrifice at a later period than the gods of the earth. The 
recognition of these powers as benevolent ones belongs to the stage of 
artificial food-production. 

As to the sequence moon and sun rather than sun and moon 
and the cause of this sequence Mr Payne is equally explicit : : 

The worship of the moon naturally precedes that of the sun, because a 
connection is traced between the lunar phenomena and the food-supply in an 
earlier stage than that in which a connection is traced between the food-supply 
and the solar phenomena. The different seasons of the year bring with them 
different supplies of natural force.. ..The approach and duration of the periods 
in which these different supplies are provided is measured by the successive 
re- appearances and gradual changes of the moon. Hence apparently the savage 
naturally regards the moon as the cause of these successive supplies of food 2 . 

To all the beneficent aspects and relations of the moon as 
insisted on by all authorities we may add perhaps, in the making 
of man's early religion, some touch of spectral terror of the remote 
dull staring thing : 

Setebos, Setebos, Setebos, 

Thinketh he dwelleth in the cold of the moon. 

In Mr Payne's sequence one step on the ladder from earth to 
heaven is what may be called the 'weather.' He adopts in fact 
without knowing it a distinction at which the Stoic philosophers 
arrived and which is very convenient for religion, the distinction 

1 Op. cit. i. p. 493. 

2 In some parts of the world the successive moons or months are called by the 
name of the plants that appear in them. 

392 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

between ra p,erdpaia and ra fierecopa. The Stoic writer Achilles 1 , 
going back probably to Poseidonios, writes thus : 

Ta perecopa are distinguished from ra peTcipcna thus : ra ptTeapa are the 
things in heaven and the ether, as e.g. the sun and the other heavenly bodies 
and ouranos and ether : ra perapcna are the things between the air and the 
earth, such as winds. 

The gist of the distinction lies in the difference between aer 
and dither; ra p,erewpa are the holy blaze of aither which is 
uppermost, ra /xerdpaia, thunder, rain, clouds, wind, are of the 
damp cold aer, the lower region of earthy mist. Of all the 
heavenly bodies the moon with her dew and mists is most akin 
to ra /xerdpaia. 

From the sequence of /Eschylus ra fxerdpaia are missing. 
He was probably only half conscious of the moon and sun elements 
in Phoibe and Phoibos, and of the disorderly phenomena of the 
weather as sanctities he took no account. In our previous chapters 
on the Thunder-Rites and on Bird-Magic we have seen how 
early and large a place ra /xerdpaia held in Greek religion, but 
ra /xerdpata were among the elements that Olympian religion 
tried, though somewhat vainly, to discard. Even however at 
Delphi traces remain, for we find the weather birds perching at 
either side of the omphalos of Gaia, and Zeus is obliged to 
acknowledge them as his eagles. 

In the light then of comparative religion iEschylus is seen 

to be right. At Delphi, as elsewhere, broadly speaking man's 

LA reactions and hence his interests or emotions focus first on earth 

^/as a source of food, then successively on the moon and sun as 

(U^| fertilizers and regents of the season. In every rite and every 

mythological figure these elements must be reckoned with. In 

analysing a god we must look for traits from earth, from 

'weather,' from moon, from sun. The earth stage will show him 

as a snake or a bull or a tree or in human form as Megistos 

Kouros or Thallophoros. The moon 2 will give him horns afresh, 

1 wepl <j(po.Zpas. The fragment is printed in the Uranologie of Petavins, Paris, 
1680. My quotation is borrowed from 0. Gilbert's valuable work, Die Meteorologischen 
Theorien d. Gr. Altertums, 1907, p. 8. 

2 Moon-elements are found in nearly all goddesses and many heroines : in 
Athena, Artemis, Hekate, Persephone, Beudis; in Antiope, Europa, Pasiphae, 
Auge, and a host of others. Sun-elements in Odysseus, Belleroplion, Perseus, 
Talos, Ixion, Phaethon. Sun and moon symbols are the bull, the golden dog, the 
Golden Fleece, the Golden Lamb, etc., etc. In fact, if our contention be true, 
there is scarcely any mythological figure that does not contain sun and moon 
elements, and scarcely any of which the content is exhausted by sun and moon. 

ix] The Slaying of the Python 393 

the sun will lend him a wheel or a chariot or a golden cup. 
Such a view is not sun-mythology or moon-mythology, it is 
common human psychology. What a man attends to, feels about, 
provided it be socially enforced and perpetuated, that is his 
religion, thence are his gods. 

But what iEschylus envisaged as a divine sequence, and what 
modern psychology and anthropology know to be a necessary 
development, looked quite otherwise to the popular mind. A 
gradual evolution seen from beginning and end only is apt to be 
conceived as a fight between the two poles. So it was at Delphi. 
The natural sequence of cults from Gaia to Apollo was seen by 
the man in the street as a fight between Earth and the Sun, 
between Darkness and Light, between the dream-oracle and the 
truth of heaven. All this for ritual reasons that will appear later 
crystallized in the form of a myth, the slaying of the Python by 

iEschylus has given us the peaceful evolution. The fight, 
though probably a fiction, is of great importance to us because it 
helps us to realize one cardinal factor in the making of an 
Olympian. Euripides 1 gives us the fight in two traditional forms : 
first the slaying of the snake, and second the dream -oracle of 
Earth and Night as against Phoibos the Sun. The chorus of 
captive maidens, handmaidens to Iphigeneia, think with longing 
of Delos and tell of Apollo's birth there and his passing to 
Delphi. Euripides as was natural in an Athenian, accepts the 
version that Apollo came from Delos, not from Crete. 

Oh fair the fruits of Leto blow ; Strophe. 

A Virgin, one, with joyous bow, 
And one a Lord of flashing locks, 
/ Wise in the harp, Apollo : 

She bore them amid Delian rocks, 
Hid in a fruited hollow. 

But forth she fared from that low reef, 

Sea-cradle of her joy and grief, 

A crag she knew more near the skies 

And lit with wilder water, 
That leaps with joy of Dionyse : 

There brought she son and daughter. 

1 I. in T. 1235. 

394 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

Then comes the slaying of the snake, as in some way necessary — 
Euripides does not say why — if Apollo is to come to his own. 
The snake, the guardian of the old Earth oracle, is killed, but the 
general apparatus of the cult, the cleft in the earth, the tripod 
'and the omphalos, is kept. 

And there, behold, an ancient Snake, Strophe 1245. 

Wine-eyed, bronze-gleaming, in the brake 
Of deep-leaved laurel, ruled the dell, 

Sent by old Earth from under 
Strange caves to guard her oracle, 

A thing of fear and wonder. 

Thou, Phoebus, still a new-born thing, 
/ Meet in thy mother's arms to lie, 
\ Didst kill the Snake, and crown thee King 
I In Pytho's land of prophecy ; 
I Thine was the tripod and the chair 

Of golden truth ; and throned there, 

Hard by the streams of Castaly, 
Beneath the untrodden portal 

Of Earth's mid-stone there flows from thee 
Wisdom for all things mortal. 

Phoibos as a new-born child slays the snake. We are reminded 
inevitably of the young New Year, of Telesphoros; we remember 
also that the hero-kings of Athens were thought of as snakes. 
But these questions must wait. For the death of her snake and 
the banishment of Themis which goes with it, Earth takes revenge, 
she sends up dream-oracles. 

He slew the Snake; he cast, men say, Antistrophe. 

Themis, the child of Earth, away 
From Pytho and her hallowed stream ; 

Then Earth, in dark derision, 
Brought forth the Peoples of the Dream 

And all the tribes of Vision. 

And men besought them ; and from deep 

Confused underworlds of sleep 

They showed blind things that erst had been 

And are, and yet shall follow. 
So did avenge that old Earth Queen 

Her child's wrong on Apollo. 

Clearly the oracle abolished by Apollo, the particular Themis 
banished by the god, was just the sort that Orpheus attributed 
to Delphi and the existence of which at Delphi was denied by 
the orthodox guide of Thespesios 1 ; it was of Earth and Night; like 
that of Asklepios it was of dream and snakes. The chorus puts 

1 Supra, p. 388. 

ix] The Sun-God as Babe 395 

it as though this kind of oracle was started by Earth in revenge 
to 'spoil the trade of Delphi 1 .' It was of course there from the 
beginning, and the snake is its representative. 

Then swiftly flew that conquering one 
To Zeus on high and round the throne 
Twining a small indignant hand, 

Prayed him to send redeeming 
To Pytho, from that troublous band 

Sprung from the darks of dreaming. 

Zeus laughed to see the babe, I trow, 
So swift to claim his golden rite; 
He laughed and bowed his head, in vow 
To still those voices of the night. 
And so from out the eyes of men 
That dark dream -truth was lost again ; 
And Phoebus, throned where the throng 

Prays at the golden portal, 
Again doth shed in sunlit song 2 

Hope unto all things mortal. 

It is a strange hymn, its gods concerned with hope and 
petty jealousy. It reflects the Delphi of the day which stood for 
greed and lying and time-serving and obscurantism. But because ■ 
Euripides is poet more even than moralist, it is redeemed and 
made beautiful by the background in which move the two ancient 
protagonists Night and Day. Still, Euripides the mystic did not, 
could not, wholly love Apollo, who stood more and more for clear 
light and truth and reason and order and symmetry and the 
harmony of the heavenly bodies and all the supposed Greek 
virtues. He knew of a god whose rites and whose beauty were 
of darkness ; when Pentheus asks Dionysos : 

How is thy worship held, by night or day 1 
the god makes answer : 

Most often night : 'tis a majestic thing 
The darkness 3 . 

Literary tradition then is unanimous as to the sequence of 
cults from Gaia to Apollo. iEschylus explains it as a peaceful 
and orderly development, Euripides as a fight. We have now to 

1 See Prof. Murray, Iphigeneia in Tauris, p. 103. 

2 v. 1279 airb 8' aXadoavvav WKrwirbv e^eiXev fiporuiv, 

Kal Ti/xas iraXw drjKe Ao£ta, 
irokvavopi 5' iv %ev6evTi dpdvq) ddparj /3poro?s 
deffcpdrcov aotdcus. 

There is no « sunlit ' in the original, but Prof. Murray divines that it is the young 

Sun-God who climbs to his father's throne. 

3 Eur. Bacch. 485. 

396 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

see what light is thrown on the situation and on the character 
of the ultimately dominant Olympian by an examination of the 
actual ritual at Delphi and the evidence of monuments. We 
begin with the cultus of Gaia. 

Of a ritual of Gaia under that name we have, it must be 
clearly understood at the outset, no evidence. But of her chief 
sanctity, the omphalos, we know much, and it is through our 
understanding of the omphalos that we shall come to realize the 
relation between Earth and Apollo and their ultimate hostility, as 
figured in the slaying of the Python. It is of the first importance 
to be clear about the omphalos, but it is not from iEschylus that 
we shall learn its real nature, though it is only when that nature 
is understood that we can feel the full beauty and reality of the 
agon in his Eumenides. 

The Omphalos. 

By the time of yEschylus the omphalos was regarded as simply 
a holy Stone which, by pious consent, was held to be the centre 
of the earth ; it was a fetich-thing, supremely sacred, to which the 
suppliant clings. This holy Stone is naturally in the innermost 
shrine. Thither, when the priestess 1 has ended her ordering and 
invocation of the Delphian divinities, she goes, and there she finds 
Orestes, clinging to the omphalos, horribly polluting its sanctity 
by his touch. The scene, mutatis mutandis, is figured on many 
vase-paintings, one of which is given in Fig. 108 2 . It brings the 
conical holy Stone clearly before us ; it is covered with fillets, 
a refuge for the suppliant. Its sanctity is clearly established, 
but what was the cause of this sanctity ? In a word what did 
the omphalos really stand for, really mean ? 

The name omphalos is little or no help. Like its correlative 
umbilicus it came to mean navel, but originally it only meant any 
sort of boss or thing that bulged, the boss of a shield or a phiale, 
an island that stands up on the ' nombril ' of the sea 3 . Fortunately 

1 ,£sch. Eum. 39 

iytb fX€V fpTTW 7T/30S TToX-VCTTetpij /J.VXOV ' 

bpCi 8' iv 6fx<pa\i^ jj.kv dvdpa Oeo/xvirrj, 
Zdpav £x 0VTa Tpo<7Tp6Trat.ov. 

2 0. Jahn, Vasenbilder, Orestes in Delphi, 1839, Taf. i. The vase was formerly 
in the Lamberti collection. 

3 Later it may have been connected with 6/j.cpri, as the place of sacred utterance. 


The Omphalos at Delphi 


we are not left to philology. We know what an omphalos actually 
was, and we have traditions as to what it was believed to be. 
These traditions seem at first to contradict the monumental 

Fig. 108. 

evidence, but, as we shall see immediately, both tradition and 
monumental facts, are equally true and equally essential to any 
right understanding. We begin with the monumental facts. 

Few, Pausanias 1 tells us, ever entered the adyton ; few therefore 
saw the real omphalos. Pausanias himself does not seem to have 
seen it, for, in enumerating the contents of the adyton, he makes 
no mention of the omphalos. But, outside the temple near the 
altar of the Chians and the famous stand of the krater of Alyattes, 
king of Lydia, there was another omphalos which Pausanias 2 did 
see and thus describes : 

What the people of Delphi call the omphalos is made of white stone and 
is said by them to be at the centre of the whole earth, and Pindar in one of 
his odes agrees with this. 

Pausanias it would seem, before he entered the temple, saw 
an omphalos and a propos of it gives the current tradition about 
the omphalos which he did not see. On the vase-painting 3 in 
Fig. 109 which represents the slaying of Neoptolemos, an egg- 
shaped omphalos is seen in the open air under a palm tree. 

1 x. 24. 5. 

2 x. 16. 2 top 5e inro Ae\(pu>v KaXoij/J-evov 6jj.<j>ak6v, \idov ireTroirifxivov XevKoO tovto 
dual to iv fj.4cr<i> yr)s irdaris k.t.A. 

3 Annali d. Inst. 1868, Tav. d' Agg. E. 

398 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

This outside omphalos has been found by the French excavators 1 

' vfm 

Fig. 109. 

just on the very spot where Pausanias saw it, and is shown in Fig. 110. 

As he described it, it is not a stone but ' made of white stone.' It 

is covered with an agrenon, a net oi 
fillets copied here in stone. We have 
then simply a holy Stone, and the 
evidence of Pausanias and the vases 
is confirmed. The discovery of an 
actual omphalos, we are told, is ' ex- 
ceedingly interesting,' but we are not 
one jot better off than we were as to 
its meaning. The old question faces 
us. What is the reason of its 
sanctity ? 

We turn to literary tradition and 
literary tradition comes as a salutary 
shock. It is to Varro we owe a 
tradition as to the omphalos that is 
of capital importance. Epimenides 

1 By kind permission of the Director of the Ecole Francaise I was allowed to 
publish it in the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellenique, 1900, p. 254, Fig. 2. But 
as the title of my article — Aegis-Agrenon — shows, its object was only to discuss the 
decoration. I had previously (Delphika, J. H. S. xix. 1899, p. 225) discussed the 
value of the omphalos itself, and to this article I must refer for many details. A 
number of illustrations of omphaloi will be found in Prof. Middleton's article in 
J. H. S. 1888, p. 296 ff. By far the best account of the omphalos known to me is 
that by Dr G. Karo in Daremberg and Saglio's Dictionnaire des Antiquites Grecques 
et Romaines, s.v. omphalos. By the kindness of Prof. Svoronos I have just received 
his monograph on oi 6/j.(pa\ol tGiv Hvdiwv, but not in time to utilize his researches. 

ix] Omphalos as Grave-mound 399 

of Phaistos — having an omphalos of his own in Crete, though 
he did not assign this as the reason — impiously denied that the 
omphalos at Delphi was the centre of the earth 1 . Varro 2 agrees 
with him, and not only, he says, is the omphalos at Delphi not 
the centre of the earth but the human navel is not the centre 
of the human body. He then goes on to say that 

What the Greeks call the omphalos is something at the side of the temple 
at Delphi, of the shape of a thesaurus, and they say it is the tumulus of Python. 

The omphalos then according to literary tradition is not a fetich- 
stone but a grave-mound, and moreover, for this is cardinal, it is 
not a grave-mound commemorating a particular dead man, it is 
the grave-mound of a sacred snake, the sacred snake of Delphi. 

The testimony of Varro does not stand alone. Hesychios 3 in 
explaining the words Togiov /3ov v 09, ' Archer's Mound/ says : 

It is of Apollo in Sikyon, but according to a better tradition it is the 
place in Delphi called Nape (ravine). For there the snake was shot down. 
And the omphalos of Earth is the tomb (rdcpos) of the Python. 

Monumental fact then says that the omphalos is a holy Stone, 
tradition says it is the grave of a daimon-snake. Which is right ? 
Happily both. The question once fairly stated almost answers 
itself. A holy Stone is not a grave, but a holy Stone may stand 
upon a grave, and such a complex of tomb and tombstone is the 

Tomb and tombstone, grave-mound and stele are known to us, 
of course, from Homer. When Sarpedon was carried to the rich 
land of wide Lycia his kinsmen and clansmen buried him 

With mound and stele — such are dead men's dues 4 . 

Grave-mounds are found all over the world. They are, when 
the ground is soft, the simplest form of sepulture ; you dig a hole, 
heap a mound, plant a stone or memorial pillar to mark the spot. 
You may have the mound without the stone, or the stone without 
the mound, but for a complete conspicuous tomb you want both. 

1 Plut. de defect, orac. i. The myth here related is purely aetiological to account 
for the birds on the omphalos. It does not here concern us. 

2 De ling. Lat. vn. 17 Praeterea si quod medium id est umbilicus, ut pilae, terrae, 
non Delphi medium. Sed terrae medium non hoc sed quod vocant Delphis in 
aede ad latus est quiddam ut thesauri specie, quod Graeci vocant dfupaXov, quem 
Pythonos aiunt tumulum. 

8 s.v. To££ov /3ow6s. 

4 II. XVI. 675 TVfijiq) re ctttjXt; tc to yap yipas earl Oavovruv. 


From, Daimon to Olympian 


Is this then all ? Is the omphalos simply the heaped-up grave 
of a local hero marked by a commemorative pillar ? Are we driven 
at last by facts, back to common-sense and Euhemerism ? A 
thousand times ' No.' The omphalos is a grave compounded of 
mound and stele ; yet the grave contains no dead man but a 
daimon-snake ; the stele is, as we shall immediately see, a thing 
not commemorative but magical. 

Varro tells us the omphalos is like in shape to a thesaurus or 
treasury. It is now recognized that the ' treasury ' of which Varro 
is speaking is not, as was formerly supposed, a beehive tomb, a 
thing like the ' Treasury ' of Atreus, but merely a money-box of 
the beehive tomb shape 1 . Two of these are reproduced in Fig. 
Ilia and b. Their shape is that of a blunt cone, and their likeness 

Fig. 111. 

to the omphalos is clear. On the one (a) just below the hole for 
the money, is a shrine with Hermes holding purse and kerykeion ; 
near him his cock. On the other (b) stands- a figure of Fortuna 
or Agathe Tyche with cornucopia and rudder. They are there, as 
the god and goddess of money, but it will not be forgotten 2 that 
in early days they were daimones of the fertility of the earth. 

1 H. Graeven, Die tlionerne Sparbiichse in Altertum in Jahrbuch d. Inst. xvi. 
1901, p. 160, Figs. 27, 29. Specimen (a) was formerly in the Castellani collection; 
(b) is in the Cabinet de medailles of the Bibliotheque Nationale, No. 5230. 

2 pp. 284 and 296. 


Omphalos and Beehive-Tomb 


But, though Varro is probably only thinking of money-boxes, 
these money-boxes reflect the shape and to some extent the 
function of other and earlier 'Treasuries,' the familiar beehive 
tombs. Pausanias 1 thus describes the 'Treasury' of Minyas, to 
him the great wonder of the world : 

It is made of stone ; its shape is round, rising up to a rather blunt top, 
and they say that the topmost stone is the keystone of the whole building. 

We are reminded of the omphalos-form, and it seems others 
saw the analogy too, for Aristotle 2 tells us that 

What are called omphaloi are the midmost stones in vaulted buildings. 

A beehive tomb must of necessity have a central keystone, but 
the ' Treasuries ' which abound in Greece proper have no keystone 
that is in any way like an omphalos. For a real and instantly con- 
vincing analogy we must go to Asia Minor. In Fig. 112 we have 

Fig. 112. 

a view of the so-called ' Tomb of Tantalos ' on Mt. Sipylos, before 
it was excavated 3 . The dotted lines indicate of course a restoration 

1 IX. 38. 3 ...uxVfJ- - ^ Trepttpepte etxriv avru, Kopu<pi) 5e ovk is ayav 6^i> dvr)y/j.ewn... 
tHov de avojT&TU) tu>v \idcov <paoiv apixoviav iravri elvai ru> oiKodofirifiaTi. 

2 De mund. VI. 28 oi dfx(pa\ol 5e \ey6fj.evoi oi iv reus i^aXtcrt \L8oi, ol fxiaot Kei/xevoi. 

3 Texier, Description de VAsie Mineure, vol. n. pp. 253, 2-54, Plate exxx. , 
Fig. 14. For evidence as to the restoration see the text. Numerous phalloi were 
found round the tombs, of just the right size to serve as keystones. They are 




From Daimon to Olympian 


but a certain one — the keystone of the great vault is a terminal 
cone like the Delphic omphalos, the chamber of death was crowned 
by the primitive symbol of life. It is no stele commemorating an 
individual man, still less is it a mere architectural or decorative 
feature; it is there with solemn magical intent to, ensure, to induce, 
the renewal of life, reincarnation. 

The ' Tomb of Tantalos ' is of great importance because it fixes 
beyond a doubt the nature of an omphalos stone. But if Asia 
Minor is felt to be too remote we have evidence, though somewhat 
less explicit, nearer home. On the road from Megalopolis to 
Messene, Pausanias 1 saw a sanctuary of certain goddesses called 
Maniae, which name he believed to be a title of the Eumenides. 
With the sanctuary was associated the story of the madness of 

Not far from the sanctuary is a mound of earth of no great size and set 
up upon it is a finger made of stone. And indeed the name of the mound is 
Finger's Tomb. 

Fig. 113. 

Pausanias goes on to recount a purely aetiological myth about 
Orestes in his madness biting off one of his fingers. 

What ' Finger's Tomb ' must have looked like may be seen in 
Fig. 113 the design from a black-figured lekythos 2 . We have the 

1 viii. 34. 2 ...ov Troppci) de tov iepov yijs x^M" iffTiv ov fieya, iirldr)na. ex " M0ov 
TreTronj/jLei'ov 5o.ktv\oi>, kcu 5t/ /ecu 6vop:a ru> ^ui^ari ecrrt AixktvXov /Avrj/jia.. 

2 In the Naples Museum. For full details see my Delphika in J.H.S. xix. 1889, 
p. 229. 


' DaktyVs Monument ' 


mound of earth covered in this case by leukoma. The mound is 
surmounted by a conical stone painted black and, roughly, finger- 
shaped. It stands on a basis of black stone. Bury the mound 
out of sight in earth, and you have an omphalos on a basis like 
those in the vase-paintings. The figures on either side approach 
as though for some solemn ritual ; probably of oath-taking. 

We have translated the words Aa/crvXov fMvrjfia as ' Finger's 
Tomb ' because they were undoubtedly so understood by Pausanias 
and the people who told the aetiological myth about Orestes. But 
the true gist of the monument is better realized if we translate 
' DaktyTs monument.' In discussing Herakles the nature of the 
Daktyls 1 became evident. They are fertility-daimones. Daktyl's 
monument is mutatis mutandis the same as the ' Tomb of Tantalos.' 

The funeral mound in Fig. 113 is marked by a great black snake. 
A white mound marked by a snake is indeed on vase-paintings 
the normal form of a hero's tomb. A good instance is shown in 


Fig. 114. 

Fig. 114 from a black-figured amphora 2 . Here we have the funeral 
mound of Patroklos. Above the mound is a pigmy eidolon, the 
hero's ghost ; on the mound is the hero-snake whose meaning is 
now 3 to us amply clear. To its special significance in relation to 
the omphalos we shall return when we come to the myth of the 
slaying of Python. 

The covering of white stucco served a double purpose. It 
preserved the mound from the weather and also made it con- 
spicuous. A tomb was necessarily tabu, and the more conspicuous 
it was, the safer for the chance passer-by. In Fig. 115 from an Attic 

1 Supra, p. 370. 

- Gerhard, Auserlesene Vasenbilder, in. Taf. 199. 

3 Supra, chapter vm. 

Berlin, Cat. 1867, No. 1902. 



From Daimon to Olympian 


lekythos 1 the mound is covered with leukoma but the precaution 
has failed. A passer-by has transgressed the tabu. Out from the 

Fig. 115. 

grave-mound darts a huge snake, the offended daimon, the Erinys 
of the tomb. 

The ordinary grave-mound, as seen in Figs. 113, 114, is 
covered with leukoma on which is painted a snake, but it has as a 
rule no surmounting cone. It is not a complete omphalos-tomb. 
On many Athenian lekythoi we have a representation of the 
mound and the stele. A fine example 2 is given in Fig. 116. The 



Fig. 116. 

1 Remains of actual tombs covered with XevKu/xa have come to light. That it 
was in use in Athens we know from Solon's prescription of it (Cicero, de leg. n. 26). 
For the whole question see Winnefeld, Jahrbuch d. Inst. 1891, p. 197, Taf. rv., by 
whom the vase in Fig. 115 was first published. 

2 Now in the National Museum, Athens. See Prof. Bosanquet, Some early 
Funeral Lekythoi, J. H. S. xix. 1899, PI. n. p. 169. 


Mound and Gone 



commemorative stele stands on a high stepped basis 
behind it is a large egg-shaped grave-mound. 

It is tempting to see in the stele a survival or transformation 
of the surmounting cone, but the vase-painting in Fig. 117 1 forbids 

Fig. 117. 

this supposition. When a vase-painter wanted to draw a cone he 
was well able to do so. It is not clear from the drawing whether 
the cone stood by the side of the mound or passed through it 
emerging into sight at the top, but in any case we have a well- 
defined cone not a stele. The intent is therefore magical not 
commemorative, though as we saw in considering the Intichiuma 
ceremonies the two are to the primitive mind not wholly sundered 2 . 

The sceptical reader will probably by this time demand a plain 
answer to a long-suppressed question. By collecting and com- 
bining scattered evidence, literary and monumental, it has been 
made possible and indeed practically certain that the omphalos 
was a cone surmounting a grave. We have further had abundant 
evidence that cones did surmount graves. Well and good. But 
such monuments, we found, were called the ' Tomb of Tantalos ' 
or ' Finger's Tomb.' Can we point to any grave-mound surmounted 
by a cone which we can fairly associate with an omphalos ? Happily 

1 From an Athenian white lekythos in the possession of Mr Cook, by whose 
most kind permission it is figured here. The drawing was made for me by 
Mrs Hugh Stewart. 

2 Supra, p. 124. 


From Daimon to Olympian 


we can, and this final evidence clinches our whole argument. It 
also casts new light on the relations between Gaia and Apollo. 

Apollo Aguieus. 

The bronze coin 1 in Fig. 118 is from Byzantium. On the obverse 
is the head of Apollo ; on the reverse an object 
which, in the light of what has been already 
seen, is not hard to explain. It is a mound 
surmounted by a tall narrow cone-shaped 
pillar, round which near the top is a wreath. 
The cone with the wreath looks somewhat like 
a cross, and might be mistaken for this 
Christian symbol. We are however able to trace the type back 
to earlier coins where all likeness to the cross disappears. 

In Fig. 119 we have placed side by side for comparison (a) a 

Fig. 118. 

Fig. 119. 

coin of Megara, (6) a coin of Apollonia in Illyria, (c) a coin of 
Ambrakia in Epiros. All three show the slender obelisk or cone 
of our Byzantium coin, but it stands on a basis not a mound, and 
has slightly variant adjuncts. The Megara coin (a) is of special 
interest, for Byzantium was a colony of Megara and doubtless 
derived its coin-types from the mother-city. The obelisk here is 
decorated with two dependent fillets and what seems to be a wreath 
seen sideways, it is certainly not a cross ; to either side in the field 
is a dolphin. On the coin of Apollonia (b) the pillar tapers slightly 
to either end and has a wreath only. The coin of Ambrakia (c) 
has two fillets dependent from the point of the obelisk, and here 
a surprise awaits us. 

The filleted obelisk on the coins of Ambrakia is the symbol 

1 In the possession of Mr Cook, and published by his kind permission from a 
drawing made for me by Mrs H. Stewart. For previous discussion of the type 
see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. Aguieus, p. 912. 


The Aguieus-Cone 


and vehicle of a god thrice familiar, Apollo Aguieus, ' He of the 
Ways.' Harpocration 1 thus describes him : 

Aguieus is a pillar tapering to the end, which they set up before the doors. 
And some say they are proper to Apollo, others to Dionysos, others to both. 

It is usually thought that Harpocration is blundering when 
he attributes the Aguieus pillar 
to Dionysos. Now that its real 
nature as a fertility-symbol is 
understood he is seen to be 
right. The pillar was neither 
Apollo nor Dionysos, it preceded 
and entered into the nature of 

A good specimen of an actual 
Aguieus-pillar 2 is still extant 
and is given in Fig. 120. It is 
cone-shaped, and on it are a 
number of pegs on some of which 
hang votive wreaths. About 
two-thirds of the way up as on 
the coin of Megara a fillet is 
twined round the pillar. Round 
the vase are sculptured figures 
of Apollo himself in human form 
dancing round his own Aguieus 
pillar. Opposite him is Pan play- 
ing on the syrinx. To their 
piping dance the three Horae. 
It is a strange conjunction of 
old and new, the human-shaped 

Fig. 120. 

1 S.v. 'A7was' dyvuvs 5e eari kiwv eis 6£i> \riyuv, 8v Icrrdai irpb tQiv dvpwf l5iovs 5e 
elvai (paaiv avrovs 'AttoWuvos, oi 5e Aiovvaov, oi 8e d/x<poiv. 

2 Now in the Villa Albani. See Panofka, Dionysos und die Tkyiaden, 1852, 
Taf. in. No. 9. Panofka explains the pillar as Dionysos, and refers to the 
Dionysos Stylos of Thebes (Clem. Alex. Strom, i. 346). But the cones were before 
the human-shaped god, and it is only by their monumental context that they can 
be assigned to one or another. In the present case the lyre-playing Apollo points 
to Aguieus. Further, we know from Clement {Strom, i. 348) that according to the 
author of the Europia, in the temple of Apollo at Delphi there was a high pillar on 
which were hung tithes and spoils votive to him. 

"0<ppa 6ei2 OeKarrju aKpodivid re Kpefidcraifiev 
aradpiuiv £k fade'wv nal kLovos v\pr}\ot.o. 
But tbe description is too vague to be decisive evidence. 


From Daimon to Olympian 


divinities still as it were adhering to the old sanctity from which 
they sprang. 

The cone with the dancing Horae throws light I think on one 
form of the triple Hekate, as shown in Fig. 121 \ Three maidens 
dance round a central half-humanized column. The type which 
occurs frequently is usually and rightly explained as Hekate, and the 
triple Charites who dance round the column are triple because of 
the three phases of the Moon. As such they are clearly shown 
in another Hekateion relief at Budapest, where on the head 
of the midmost figure is a great crescent. 
Further this relief shows clearly that the 
triple maidens were, to begin with, of 
earth. One of them like the Semnae, like 
the Erinyes, holds a coiled snake. The 
Horae or Seasons of the Moon, her 
Moirae, are preceded by the earlier Horae, 
the Seasons of Earth's fertility, at first 
two, spring for blossoming, autumn for 
fruit, then under the influence of a moon- 
calendar three. These earliest Horae dance 
as was meet round the old fertility-pillar. 

The scholiast on the Wasps* as well as 
Suidas 4 both state that the cone-shaped 
Aguieus is Dorian, and the statement ac- 
cording to the scholiast has the authority 
of Dieuchidas of the fourth century B.C. 
who wrote chronicles of Megara. The 
point is interesting because the coins cited 
all come from Dorian colonies, and since 
Prof. Ridge way's 5 investigations Dorian 
now r spells for us not late Hellenic but primitive ' Pelasgian.' 

Fig. 121. 

1 In the Museum at Prague. For these Hekateia see my Mythol. and Mori. 
of Anc. Athens, p. 379. 

2 Archaol. epigr. Mitt, aus Oestr. iv. Taf. vi. 

3 V. 875 (3 decnror' aVa£ yeiTov 'A-yweP rovp.ov irpodvpov TrpOTrvXcue. 

4 s.v. ' Ay viai... ay vuvs 5t ecrri kL(i>i/...&8 in Harpocration. He adds £<jti de idiov 
Acoptewv ' eT(i> 5' av oi irapa. rots 'Attikois Xeyo/xevoi ayvteTs ol irpo twu oIkiQiv fSupLoi' ws 
2o0o/cXt;9 p.€Ta.ywv ra ' Ad-qvaiwv ?8tj eis Tpoiav <pr\al 

A6.pi.Trei 5' Ayvtevs fiuifj-bs &T/j.lfav rrvpl 
(rfivpvrjs <TTa\ay/uLovs, /3ap/3dpous evoa/j.ias. 
/cot dyvievs 6 irpb tQ>v avXeiuv dvpQv Kwvoeidris kluiv lepos AttoXXwvos ko.1 avrbs deos. 

5 Who were the Dorians? in Anthropological Essays presented to E. B. Tylor, 
1907, p. 295, but for another view see Mr C. Hawes, B.S.A. xvi. 1909-10, p. 265. 


The Aguieus- Cone as Altar 


Suidas speaks of the Aguieus pillars as ( altars ' (/3<w/zoi). As 
an altar in our sense, as a place for burnt-offering, the obelisk could 
scarcely serve, but, when it stood on a grave- mound or on a basis, 
mound or basis would serve as altar while wreaths and stemmata 
as on the coins would be hung on the obelisk. In this connection 
it is instructive to note that on a black-figured vase-painting 1 
Fig. 122 we have an omphalos-like structure decorated with diaper 
pattern, and against it is clearly written ' Bcofios.' The primitive 
altar was not a stone structure raised high above the earth but 
rather a low mound of earth, a grave-mound. This is shown very 
clearly in the vase-painting on another vase 2 , where there is no 

Fig. 122. 

doubt that the omphalos-like structure is a grave-mound. The 
scene is the slaying of Polyxena over the very tomb of Achilles 
into which her blood is seen flowing. Near the omphalos-altar is a 
low hearth, an eschara. 

The pillar of Aguieus stood before the entrance of the Athenian 
house 3 . This comes out very clearly in the absurd scene of the 
sacralization of the Court in the Wasps*. The chorus of old 
dikasts solemnly invoke the god of the place : 

' Pythian Phoebus, and Good Fortune, 
speed this youth's design 
Wrought here, these gates before ; 
Give us from wanderings i*est 
And peace for evermore, 
Ieie Paian.' 

1 Munich Cat. 124; Gerhard, Auserlesene Vasenbilder, 228. 
- A 'Tyrrhenian' amphora in the British Museum. H. B. Walters, J. H. 8. 
xviii. 1898, PI. xv. p. 284. 

3 Three examples of Aguieus-pillars are still in situ beside house-doors at 
Pompeii. Another, inscribed MCs fj.e 'iaaro, is in the Corfu Museum. See J. Six in 
A. Mitt. xix. 1894, 340—345. 

4 v. 869. I have ventured to interpolate 'Good Fortune' in Mr Rogers' trans- 
lation, of which I make use. Apollo as Aguieus is essentially Agathos-Daimon. 
He probably had the old honey-service instead of wine, and this I think is referred 
to in the words (v. 878) clvtI cripaiov ^eXiros fw<pbv t$ dv/iidiqi irajja/xi^as. 

410 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

And Bdelycleon, while the Paean is sung, looks up to the 
conical pillar of Aguieus who was also Patroos and prays for 
his father: 

'Aguieus, my neighbour, my hero, my lord ! who dwellest in front of my 

vestibule gate, 
I pray thee be graciously pleased to accept the rite that we new for my 

father create.' 

Apollo Aguieus is often interpreted as a sun-pillar and with 
some measure of truth. In front of the ordinary Athenian house 
there stood not only an Aguieus but a Hekateion. Philocleon 1 is 
filled with the bright hope that the oracles will come true and 
each Athenian will someday build 

Before his own door in the porch a Courtlet, 
A dear little Courtlet like a Hekateion. 

Aguieus the sun will guard and guide him by day, Hekate the 
Moon by night. So the scholiast on Plato 2 understands Apollo 
and Hekate. They are both ivoSioi Sal/Aoves ' Way-Gods,' lighting 
the wayfarer, the first business of moon and sun to primitive man. 

By ' daimon of the ways ' he means Artemis or Selene ; Apollo also is called 
Of the AVays (Aguieus), because they both fill the ways with light, the one, 
the Sun, by day, the other by night. Therefore they set them up in the 

The triple Hekateia as we have seen show a pillar surrounded 
by three dancing figures 3 . The pillar of life has become a pillar 
of light. Aguieus is Phoibos. 

Aguieus the pillar is often confused with the Herm. The wife 
of Mnesilochos goes out to met her lover and talks to him, near 
the Aguias, under a bay-tree. The scholiast 4 explains Aguieus 
as a herm. ' They give this name to a four-square Apollo.' In 
intent there is obviously no difference, but the form was unlike 
and they were probably developed by different peoples. Hermes 
remained in cultus phallic to the end; Aguieus, at least at Delphi, 
was by historical times expurgated, possibly because he early took 

1 Ar. Vesp. 804. 

2 Legg. 914 B evoSlav 8a.LiJ.ova ttjv "Aprepuv ijroi rr\v !L€k-r\vv\v <pr)<jlv, eVet Kal 6 
'AiroWoiv 'Ayvievs, nai yap 8.p.<pw rets 65oi)s TrX-qpovai. cpwros, 6 /xev rip.epa% 6 rjXtos 17 5e 
vvktos. 816 Kal l8pvovcn tovtovs ev avrais. 

'■■ Supra, p. 408. 

4 Ar. Thesm. 489 irapa rbv 'Ay^iS, Schol. ayvievs oi!ro> KaXov/nevos 'AttoWwv 


Apollo and the Omphalos 


on as ' birthday gift ' from Phoibe the fertility of the moon rather 
than the earth. 

On the red-figured vase-painting in Fig. 123 1 we see the 

Fig. 128. 

Olympian Apollo seated on the omphalos 2 . The scene is certainly 
at Delphi, for the figure approaching on the left and holding a 
sheathed sword is Orestes balanced to the right by Pylades. Apollo 
looks triumphant holding lyre and laurel branch, and if we think 
of him as dethroning Gaia from her ancient seat we find his 
intrusion hard to bear, but, remembering Aguieus, it may be that 
the seated Olympian is no parvenu but only the fully humanized 
form of the ancient fertility cone, surmounting the grave-mound. 

The grave-cone took shape in Aguieus, but naturally the 
omphalos-cult was not confined to Delphi or associated only with 
Apollo. It might arise anywhere where there was a hero-grave 
or a worship of Earth-Spirits 3 . We have seen that Asklepios had 

1 Eaoul Rochette, Man. Med. pi. 37. Naples Museum, Heydeinann Cat. 108. 

2 For the type in sculpture see Mr Wace's article in B.S.A. 1902-3 (ix.), p. 211. 

3 An instructive parallel to the omphalos-cult I believe to be the ceremonial of 
the Latin mwndus, covered by the lapis manalis. But the examination of this 
would take me too far for present limits. I will only note that the two elements of 
the omphalos-cult, ghosts or fertility, are very clearly present, though their connection 
is not expressly stated. Varro (op. Macrob. i. 16. 18) says 'Mundus cum patet, 
deorum tristium atque inferum ianua patet.' Plutarch, Vit. Rom. 11, notes that 
the mundus was, as it were, the penus or storehouse of the new city, dirapxai- re 
TravTwv oaois vofxu fitv (is /caAois exp&vTo, (pvatL 5k ws dvayKaioLS, dweTeQ^crav evrauOa. 
As often with the Latins, we have the social fact presented clearly because unmytho- 
logized. For 'Mundus patet' see Mr Warde Fowler, Roman Festivals, p. 211, 
and for Tellus and the Manes see his Religious Experience of the Roman People, 
1911, p. 121. 

412 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

a snake-twined omphalos 1 ; there was probably an omphalos in 
Cyprus*; we shall meet another in Athens. At Phlius 3 , that home 
of archaic cults, there was an omphalos which, in emulation of 
Delphi, was reputed to be the midmost point of the whole Pelo- 
ponnese, a pretension obviously absurd. It stood near the ancient 
house of divination of Amphiaraos, where was a dream-oracle. 

At Argos an inscription 4 has come to light which tells how 
the Trpofj,dvTi€<; and -rrpo^rjTai of Apollo Pythios 

established, in accordance with an oracle, the omphalos of Ga and the 
colonnade and the altar... and they arranged a tkesauros in the oracular 

Obviously this complex was a correct copy of the Delphic 
installation and would have no interest for us, but that it probably 
supplanted or somehow rearranged a more ancient sanctuary. 
When the Danaides in the Supplices of /Eschylus land at Argos 
they betake themselves as suppliants to a hill {ird^o^Y whereon 
was an altar and about it somewhere the symbols of the gods, or 
rather, as we should put it, the sanctities that preceded any 
definite divinities. They are called by Danaos the dycaviot 6eoi, 
gods of the agon or assembly. The chorus, more justly, alludes to 
them as daimones. 

The chorus, holding their suppliant branches, which are, 
Danaos says, ' images of holy Zeus 6 ,' that is of Zeus Aphiktor" 1 , 
Zeus the ' Suppliant,' pray, as they needs must, and as iEschylus 
would himself desire, first and foremost to Zeus. But, seated as 
they are,, on the holy mound, they have to get into touch with 
the local sanctities. Hence a sort of sacramental litany follows, 
expounding and emphasizing, and as it were displaying, their 
forms and functions. 

1 Supra, p. 384. 

2 Hesvch. 777s 6/jL(pa\6s' i) Ud<pos kcli Ae\<poi. 

3 Paus. 11. 13. 7. 

4 Vollgraff, Bull. Corr. Hell. 1903, p. 274 "Eooavro [rbv] e/c fiavrrias Tas 6fj.<pa\bv 
vat T[a]u Trepiaraaiv nai to (ppayixa ko.1 rbv fitaubv . . ./ecu Oyaavpbv iv ry /xavrricp 

5 Jisch. Supp. 179 

afj.eiv6v iorc iravrbs elveic , w Kopai, 
Tr&yov Trpooi^eiv rCovd' dyuividiv 6eQv. 

6 v. 181 d\\' ws TO-xi-OTa /3are, Kal \evKO0Te<peTs 

'iKerrjpias a/ydX/iccr' aidoiov Albs... 

7 Prof. Murray, Rise of the Greek Epic 2 , p. 291, has shown that Zeus Aphiktor 
is a 'projection' of the rite of Supplication. 

ix] The Omphalos at Argos 413 

Zeus duly invoked, Danaos continues, pointing to some symbol : 

Da. Next call ye upon yonder son of Zeus. 

Clio. We call upon the saving rays of the Sun. 

Da. And pure Apollo banished, a god, from heaven 1 . 

Unless we realize the background the passage is not easy to 
understand, but, if we suppose an omphalos-sanctuary, all is clear. 
Danaos at the word 'yonder' (rovSe) points to the Aguieus-pillar 
that marks the top of the mound. It is the symbol of the young 
son (Ivts), the kouros of Zeus 2 . But the chorus do not quite catch 
his point. They answer conventionally, and perhaps with a trace 
of Egyptian reminiscence, ' Yes, of course, Apollo the Sun with 
his saving rays.' Well and good, says Danaos, but the point just 
now is that you appeal to a god who was, like yourselves, banished, 
and who, though counted as impure, was intensely, savingly pure, 
and the source of life, health and salvation. The holy stone he 
points to is, like the omphalos, like the stone on which Orestes sat 
at Gythion 3 , like the black stone of the Mother 4 , kathartic and 
apotropaic. It is an earlier sanctity and purity than the purity 
of the Sun. 

Among the local sanctities precedence is given to the Apollo- 
stone which, if we are right, crowns the mound. Other sanctities 
appropriate to the circumstances of the Danaides are, the trident 5 
of the sea-god who has brought them hither, and the kerykeion 
of the herald-god who is the protector and vehicle of all suppliants 6 . 
We seem to see before us the social sanctities on their way to be 
divinities. Supreme among them is the relation to Ga, Ga Bounis 1 , 

1 ;Esch. Supp. 202 

Aa. Kal Ztjcos Iviv rdv5e vvv kik\7i<tk€T€. 

Xo. Ka\ov/xev airyas i)\Lov <TtoT7]pLovs. 

Aa. ayvov r' 'A7r6\Xw cpvydd' air' ovpavou deov. 
The MSS. have 6pviv. Following Kiehl (Bamberger) and Prof. Tucker and 
Dr Headlam I read Ivlv. If the reading opviv be correct, the reference must be to 
an eagle. 

2 For Apollo as Kouros see end of chapter. 

3 Paus. in. 22. 1. 

4 The scholiast on Pind. in. 77 tells of the Mother-stone for which Pindar 
founded a shrine. For the prophetic, kathartic and prophylactic properties of these 
holy stones in connection with the omphalos see my Delphika, J.H.S. xix. p. 237. 
The pballos-stone being specially the vehicle of life was specially able to revivify 
and heal all sickness and misfortune. 

5 v. 208 bpGi rplaivav rrjvde ar}jxelov deov. 

Probably (see supra, p. 171) an ancient hi dens -mark — as in the Erechtheion. 

6 jEsch. Supp. 210 Aa. "Ep/j.Tjs 85' aXAos to?<tiv 'E\\r)vuv vo/jlois. 

Xo. eXevdepois vvv ecxdXa KrjpvKeveTW. 

7 v. 742 t'w -ya ^ovvItl, HvSikov <7e/3as. 

414 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

' Earth of the Mound,' to whom the Danaides, the Well-Nymphs, 
ever appeal. Even Zeus is to them ' Child of Earth,' hence Olbios 
and Ktesios 1 . It is scarcely possible to breathe the religious 
atmosphere of the play save as we see it enacted against the 
background of the omphalos-sanctuary. 

We go back to Delphi and view the omphalos with new eyes. 
When the priestess passes into the inmost sanctuary of Gaia, she 

'finds Orestes clinging to the life-stone and about him the aveng- 
ing ghosts, the fell Erinyes. They have come, it seemed to 
iEschylus — his mind all out of focus through his beautiful mono- 
theism and his faith in God the father — from afar, hunting the 
fugitive. But of course they, the ghosts, were there in the grave- 
sanctuary from the first. Like the Semnae they dwell in a chasm 

1 of the earth, and over the chasm stood, it may be, the life-stone, for 
they, the ghosts, year by year, bring, in the cycle of reincarnation, 
new-old life to man and to the earth, from which they spring and to 
which they return. They are from the beginning what iEschylus 
makes them ultimately become, spirits of life, fertility-ghosts. 
By the mouth of Clytemnestra 2 he blackens their ritual : 

' How oft have ye from out my hands licked up 
Winelesa libations, sober offerings, 
On the low hearth of fire, banquets grim 
By night, an hour unshared of any god.' 

Yet these same wineless libations, these sober offerings, were 
the due of the Eumenides at Argos, the snake-maidens, and of the 
Semnae at Athens : 

The firstfruits offered for accomplishment 
Of marriage and for children 3 . 

iEschylus seems to have seen only the evil of the Earth-Spirits, 
only the perennial damnation of the blood-feud. It is impossible 
to avoid regret that he did not see that these Earth-Spirits were 
for blessing as for cursing, and that he stooped to the cheap 

1 v. 859 to /3a, Tas ttcu, Zed; v. 509 reXeidrarov Kparos, S\j3ie Zed; for Zeus Olbios 
see supra, p. 148, v. 428 yevoir av &\\a ktijctIov Aids xo-P LV \ f° r Zeus Ktesios cee 
supra, p. 297. 

2 Jisch. Eum. 106. 

3 v. 837. For the practical identity of the ritual of the Erinyes, the Eumenides, 
and the Semnae, see Prolegomena, pp. 239 — 256. That the Semnae were ghosts as 
well as fertility spirits is quite clearly shown by the customs connected with the 
devrepoirdT/xci. Op. cit. p. 244. 

ix] The Ennaeteric Festivals at Delphi 415 

expedient of maligning his spiritual foes. What in his inspired 
way he did see, both in the Supplices and the Ewnienides, was 
that the old forces of the Earth must be purged from forcefulness, 
from violence and vengeance, before Earth could in plenitude 
bring forth her increase. 

It remains to ask, ' What do we know of the ritual of Gaia at 
Delphi ? ' Of ritual to Gaia under that name and definitely stated 
to have been carried on at the omphalos-sanctuary, the answer, as 

i previously indicated, is, ' Nothing.' But it happens that we have 
from Plutarch a fairly full account of three manifestly primitive 
festivals which took place at Delphi every nine years, and these 
festivals, on examination, turn out to be three acts in one dramatic 
or rather magical ceremony, whose whole gist is to promote the 
fertility of Earth. They are in short three factors in, or forms of, 
a great Eniautos-Festival. 

The Ennaeteric Festivals at Delphi. 

In his Greek Questions Plutarch 1 asks, 'What is Charila among 
the Delphians ? ' His answer begins as follows : 

There are three Nine-Year Festivals that the Delphians keep in the 
following order. One they call Stepterion, the next Herois, the third 


All that Plutarch states is that these three festivals were each 
celebrated every nine years and that their sequence was as given. 
Whether they were all enacted at the same time — on, e.g. three 
successive days, or at successive periods in the year, cannot be 
decided certainly. The order is not of great importance, as in the 
cyclic monotony of the life of an Eniautos-daimon it matters little 
whether death follows resurrection or resurrection death. We 
shall begin therefore with the festival, the intent of which is 
clearest and to us most instructive, the second in order, the 
Herois or ' Heroine,' reserving for the end the festival with which 
Plutarch begins, the Stepterion. 

The Herois. This is a delightful festival to investigate, because 

1 Q. Gr. XII. Tts 7/ irapa Ae\(pocs Xap/Xa ; rpeis ayovcri Ae\<poi evvaerripldas Kara, to 
e|^s, wv ttjc fxev ^TeirTTjpi.oi' KaXo'vai, rr)v 8' 'KputSa, ttjv 5e XapiXav. 

416 From Daimon to Olympian [ch. 

we have only one source for it, Plutarch 1 himself. And he, though 
it is but little, tells us just enough for its understanding. 

Most of the ceremonies of the Herois have a mystical reason which is 
known to the Thyiades, but, from the rites that are done in public, one may 
conjecture it to be a ' Bringing up of Semele.' 

The Herois was a woman's festival. Plutarch of course could 
not be present at the secret ceremonies of the Thyiades, but his 
friend Thyia, their president, would tell him all a man might know. 
Part of the ceremonial he says was public. 

Charila. The third of the ennaeteric festivals, the Charila, is 
the manifest counterpart of the Herois, and again Plutarch is our 
sole but sufficient source. After recounting the aetiologic